The City of Los Angeles is a Mayor-Council-Commission form of government, as originally adopted by voters of the City of Los Angeles, effective July 1, 1925 and reaffirmed by a new Charter effective July 1, 2000. A Mayor, City Controller, and City Attorney are elected by City residents every four years. Fifteen City Council members representing fifteen districts are elected by the people for four-year terms, for a maximum of three terms. Members of Commissions are generally appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the City Council. General Managers of the various City departments are also appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. Most employees of the City are subject to the civil service provisions of the City Charter.
The basic law of the government of the City of Los Angeles is found in the City Charter, first adopted by a vote of the people in 1924, effective July 1, 1925, and subsequently amended from time to time. In 1999, the voters approved a new City Charter that addresses government in this new century. The Charter provides for a mayor-council type of municipal system, the Mayor being the executive branch and the Council the legislative. The governmental machinery consists of approximately 42 departments and bureaus which are headed by General Managers or advisory or controlling Boards or Commissions appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation of the Council. The Board of Public Works is the only full-time board. The new City Charter, effective July 2000, provided for the creation of a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils. The goal of the Neighborhoods Councils is to promote public participation in City governance and decision-making process to create a government more responsive to local needs.
The Mayor is the head of City government and serves a four-year term. The Mayor, more than any other City official, is held responsible for the conduct of City affairs. As the executive officer of the City, the Mayor submits proposals and recommendations to the Council, approves or vetoes ordinances passed by the Council, and enforces the City’s ordinances. The Mayor recommends and submits the annual budget and passes upon subsequent appropriations and transfers; appoints, and may remove, certain City officials and commissioners; secures cooperation among the departments of the City; receives and examines complaints made against officers and employees; and coordinates visits of foreign and domestic dignitaries with public and private organizations. The Mayor is also the Director of the Emergency Operations Organization.
The Mayor's official website is at https://www.lamayor.org/
The City Council
The Council is the governing body of the City, except as otherwise provided in the Charter, and enacts ordinances subject to the approval or veto of the Mayor. It orders elections, levies taxes, authorizes public improvements, approves contracts, and adopts traffic regulations. The Council adopts or modifies the budget proposed by the Mayor and provides the necessary funds, equipment, and supplies for budgetary departments. The Council confirms or rejects appointments proposed by the Mayor and prescribes duties of boards and officers not defined by Charter.
With the rapid growth of the City have come many problems affecting lives and welfare of its residents, such as traffic control, sewage and garbage disposal, recycling, environmental quality, fire and police protection, flood control, public utility regulation, and many other functions. Responsibility for the proper solution of these problems rests with the City Council, which consists of fifteen members elected by districts. The Council meets in City Hall three days each week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, except for the first Friday of every month in which Council meetings are held at the Van Nuys City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.
The Council is provided technical assistance by the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office. Personnel from this office are assigned to work with the various Council Committees and the Council as a whole to gather information which the Council may require for the passage of City legislation.
Individual Councilmembers' websites can be found in our Council Directory.
As required by the City Charter and established by Resolution, the Council is organized into committees to facilitate adequate consideration of matters subject to its attention. All members are appointed by the President of the City Council. Each Council Member is the Chair of one committee and a member of two others. Special ad hoc committees may be established and function in accordance with the authority creating them.
Committees meet at a set time, or upon call of the Chair. Through reports and hearings, Committees obtain information on matters under consideration and make recommendations to the Council in the form of signed written reports which are summarized on an Agenda by the City Clerk for the information of individual Council Members, City departments, and the public.
The City Attorney
The City Attorney is elected by the people of Los Angeles to represent the City and serves as legal advisor to the Mayor, City Council, and all City boards, departments, officers and entities. As the City’s general counsel, the City Attorney provides advice and opinions on matters of municipal concern, examines contracts and ordinances as to form and legality, and is frequently called upon to interpret the City Charter, federal and state statutes, and other laws that govern Los Angeles.As the City’s chief prosecutor, the City Attorney prosecutes all misdemeanor criminal offenses and infractions occurring in the City of Los Angeles. The City Attorney works closely with local law enforcement agencies to prosecute crimes through the Criminal Branches of the City Attorney’s Office located throughout Los Angeles. The City Attorney’s Office is also a resource for victims and witnesses of crimes, and provides a network of referral services as well as crisis intervention and support. Additionally, the City Attorney administers a number of citywide crime prevention initiatives focused on preserving the quality of life throughout Los Angeles’ neighborhoods.
The City Attorney litigates all civil actions on behalf of the City and represents the City, its boards and officers in all civil trials and legal proceedings, in both state and federal court. The City Attorney advocates for the benefit of the City before the United States Congress and the State Legislature and represents the City in proceedings before the State Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Maritime Board, and other federal and state administrative bodies and committees when the City is an interested party.
The City Attorney's official website is at https://www.lacityattorney.org/
The City Controller
The City Charter establishes the Controller as an elected official and gives the Controller the responsibility for serving as the auditor and chief accounting officer of the City. The Controller is required to exercise general supervision over the accounts of all officers and departments of the City, including the independent departments of Airports, Water and Power and Harbor. Under the Charter all City payments must be approved by the City Controller. The Controller also prepares the official financial reports for the City and is responsible for financial and performance audits of all City Departments and programs.
The City Controller's offical website is at http://www.lacontroller.org/