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SF Listens Engages Hundreds of San Francisco Residents on Budget Priorities

We just receieved a report from AmericaSpeaks about its recent project “San Francisco Listens.” In April 2005 AmericaSpeaks assisted Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco to hold three meetings around the city that engaged 500 residents in discussions on budget priorities. The meetings addressed the current San Francisco budget crisis and offered participants the opprtunity to prioritize key issues, provide feedback on strategies to address these issues, and suggest additional strategies. The prioritization of policy issues varied by community, but several emerged as issues of common concern across the meetings, including: public safety; accountable and responsive government; jobs and economic development; homelessness; and housing. Mayor Newsom, who kicked off all of the meetings, acknowledged that the longer he is in office, the more difficult it is to stay in touch with residents, and made a commitment to continue to use innovative mechanisms to connect with constituents on shaping policy decisions. Mayor Newsom plans to submit the Final Report from SF Listens along with his budget to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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