Participatory Budgeting to lift up Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has some of the lowest income and highest need areas in the country resulting from years of structural and institutional racism. These inequities were further made apparent as the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted our low-income communities of color.

The City of Los Angeles 2021-2022 budget, proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and approved by the City Council, includes funding to launch the Los Angeles Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgment of Institutional Racism (L.A. REPAIR) Innovation Fund, which includes the City’s first participatory budgeting pilot. Participatory Budgeting is designed to: 

Participatory budgeting cycle

Emphasize public ownership of government resources: Direct available resources in a manner which residents feel is most urgently needed; trust grassroots groups to manage projects.

Deepen democracy: Increase the volume, quality, and longevity of residents’ engagement in city governance.

Improve trust in government: Enhance transparency and accountability in budgeting decisions.

Build stronger communities: Connect funding to community based organizations and local context by incorporating on-the-ground community knowledge ー improving chances of successful and sustained outcomes that matter most to people.

Nine communities, called REPAIR Zones, will a) generate and put forward ideas for programs, b) vote on allocation toward proposed programs, and c) monitor spending and outcomes, allocating approximately $8.5M through the process.

The nine REPAIR Zones are: Skid Row, Arleta-Pacoima, Boyle Heights, Mission Hills-Panorama City-North Hills, Westlake, West Adams, South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles and Wilmington-Harbor Gateway. 

LA REPAIR Zones map

We used poverty data, COVID-19 case rate data, as well as data reflecting the digital divide and a statewide mapping tool of pollution called CalEnviroScreen to determine the nine REPAIR zones.

All nine communities have at least 87% residents of color, and at least 16% live in poverty. Furthermore, these communities have an unemployment rate of at least 15%, and at least 30% of all renter households paid half or more of their income on rent.

Solicitation of ideas from the nine REPAIR Zones will begin in 2022.

Click here to read our report on the LA Repair Pilot Program.

What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget.

PB started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, as an anti-poverty measure that helped reduce child mortality by nearly 20%. Since then PB has spread to over 7,000 cities around the world, and has been used to decide budgets from states, counties, cities, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions.

PB has been used in cities like New York City to give local communities direct decision making power of how dollars are spent in their neighborhoods. Click here to learn more.


LA REPAIR Passes Council

LA REPAIR Passes Council