People’s Budget of San José


Background Report [pdf]

The People’s Budget of San José is a collaboration between the Human Rights Institute and Sacred Heart Community Services. The project grew out of social movements and protests in San José and across the country to reexamine community safety and policing. The background and project context can be found in our initial report, released in October 2020.

Focus Group Report [pdf]

The first phase of the project was a series of focus group discussions and public conversations to learn about people’s experiences of community safety, attitudes towards the police, and views on the city budget. These conversations were hosted by over a dozen community organizations. A group of Human Rights Institute faculty analyzed the data from the conversations and released a report with the findings from these discussions in September, 2021.

The community conversations also informed the creation of a public survey to assess, at a population level, people’s thoughts about community safety, policing, and alternatives to policing that are being considered by municipalities throughout the Bay Area and the country.

Understanding community safety and policing in San José, California: A qualitative and communal analysis

Michael Dao, Soma De Bourbon, Melissa McClure Fuller, William Armaline, and Miranda Worthen 

The project intended to inform justice policy reform in the city according to the perspectives and needs of residents. Through this community-academic partnership, 14 focus group discussions were held by community-based organizations where diverse groups of residents shared what community safety looked like to them, discussed what made them feel unsafe, learned about the city's budget, and identified how that budget reflects or is in opposition to their ideas about how to achieve safety

San José Community Survey: Perspectives on Safety, Spending, and Policing [pdf]

Executive Summary

This report documents the findings from the People’s Budget of San José (PBSJ) Survey. Over 1,500 people took the survey, sharing their ideas about public safety and the city budget. In the following sections, we present data on

  1. Perspectives on San José City Spending
  2. Opinions about Policing and Law Enforcement Policy
  3. Experiences of Policing
  4. Perspectives on Alternatives to Policing

We also provide details on the demographics of survey respondents with comparisons to the population of San José. Appendix I contains additional graphical displays of key findings, illustrating response patterns by demographic characteristics. Appendix II contains the full survey instrument.

Summary of Findings

  1. In several areas, a clear majority of San José residents supported increased funding: Community safety resources (73%), Helping residents meet basic needs (67%), and Public resources like parks, libraries & transportation (63%). The area with the most support for decreased funding was police (47%).
  2. The vast majority of people think policing in San José has problems (77%), with a majority (52%) agreeing there are “serious problems” needing major reforms.
  3. Residents’ experiences with police varied widely based on their demographic groups. Across a range of questions, sexual and gender minorities, younger people, African American/Black, Native American, Chicanx/Latinx/Hispanic respondents, and people with lower household incomes had generally more negative experiences with and attitudes towards policing compared to those who identify as men, heterosexual, older, White or Asian, or had higher household incomes.
  4. Across demographic categories, respondents overwhelmingly support San José adopting alternatives to policing with between 72% - 82% supporting non-police approaches to managing mental health crises, traffic safety, school safety, and the needs of the city’s unhoused population.

Click here to see the report in its entirety. [pdf]