Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

County of San Mateo – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Case Story

Community:County of San Mateo

Population: 264,972

Summary:

San Mateo County developed a face-to-face and online visioning process to help guide its budget decisions. This “Shared Vision 2025” process built on and updated a long-range plan that had been collaboratively developed with community input in 1999. The county held a series of facilitated community meetings designed to reach out to a broad cross-section of residents and to define a vision of what people want from and for their county over the next 15 years.

Program Highlights

  • The County experimented with alternative methods for getting useful and broadly representative public input, trying different times of day, venues and formats for engaging residents in community decisions.
  • A steering committee of residents helped to ensure a broad and open process, with meetings in different locations around the county, including a Spanish language meeting in a Latino community, a meeting at a large local employer, and one with members of youth commissions in the county.

Lessons Learned

  • Using keypad polling devices to tally resident priorities in some public meetings is a good way to keep people engaged.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

A steering committee of residents helped to ensure a broad and open process. Meetings were held in different locations around the county, including a Spanish language meeting in a Latino community, a meeting at a large local employer, and one meeting with members of youth commissions in the county. “This process provided us with 5 vision statements that we will link our budgeting decisions to,” one county supervisor said. “Because these were disparate groups of people brought together in disparate locations, I felt we were able to get a valid list of vision statements that represent what their county is about.”

The county is experimenting with alternative methods for getting useful and broadly representative public input, trying different times of day, venues and formats for engaging residents in community decisions. For instance, a “What’s Your Idea” section on the county website gives residents as opportunity to suggest and vote on ideas to help balance the county budget. The county also used keypad polling devices to tally resident priorities in some public meetings. One supervisor said she found this was a good way to keep people engaged. The county also hosts a monthly “Solar Roundtable” group, involving residents in discussions to explore how the county can promote the installation of solar and other renewable energy systems on homes and businesses in unincorporated areas.

The county augmented public input gathered in the community forums with individual opinions collected through an online survey posted on its website. This survey asked residents what they thought the county’s highest priority goal to achieve by 2025 should be and how strongly individuals supported the county’s current goals. Some questions focused specifically on housing options, an important and controversial issue in an area where homes are expensive and in limited supply.

Log in

Commands