Read about participatory democracy campaigns from community organizers on the ground

San Diego, CA

Community Budget Alliance and Invest in San Diego Families

The Center on Policy Initiatives anchors two coalitions that work on local budgets to transform the City of San Diego and County of San Diego. The Community Budget Alliance (CBA) is a coalition of local organizations and community members who believe the city budget should be a people’s budget. Invest in San Diego Families (ISDF) is a coalition of community residents and groups that believe in a community, economy, and county government that puts power into the hands of the people. Both build local power and put forward intersectional demands for equitable public investments that foster community wealth, health, and justice for all, especially communities of color.

For these coalitions, public education is at the center of their work. The coalitions learn from each member's experience and expertise and hold events to demystify the budget process. They also conduct original budget analysis. Findings and recommendations are regularly shared in public events, social media, reports, and city forums. As a broad, cross-sector coalition, CBA works together every year to develop its collective budget priorities and a campaign plan. The collaborative and interactive process asks that each member contribute and lead key areas of work in groups. Decisions are made through a consensus-building or voting process. Major breakthroughs for ISDF include expanding participation and access. ISDF was able to: move county elections to November, when there is higher voter turnout; add an evening budget hearing so people with day jobs can participate; and win Spanish translation services.