Los Angeles Government

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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When Los Angeles was founded September 3, 1781, it had just 44 individuals in 14 families.

The City of Los Angeles was incorporated on April 4, 1850. At that time it had a population of 1,610 and an area of 28 mi2. It lacked any graded street, sidewalk, water system, lights nor a single public building of its own. On Saturday mornings, residents swept the street in front of their houses. Street lighting was accomplished by mandating street-facing houses to place a light at their front door during the first two hours of each night.

Today, Los Angeles has a population of almost 4,000,000 over an area of 465 mi2 with 7,366 miles of streets, and water and power brought in from mountains hundreds of miles away. Mud flats have been dredged, creating one of the world's busiest harbors: Wilmington and San Pedro.

The City of Los Angeles' current Mayor-Council-Commission government was adopted in 1925.

This municipal system was adopted when in 1924, voters approved a Charter effective July 1, 1925. The Mayor is the executive branch, and the Council is the legislative branch. A Mayor, Controller and Attorney are elected by City residents every four years. There are fifteen districts in Los Angeles. Each district elects a City Council member for a four-year term, for a maximum of two terms.

Commissions are generally appointed by the Mayor, subject to City Council approval. The governmental machinery comprises over forty departments and bureaus, each headed by a General Manager or advisory or controlling Boards or Commissions. General Managers and Boards or Commissions are also appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. Most City employees are subject to the civil service provisions of the City Charter.

The City's structure was reaffirmed by a 1999 vote for a new Charter, effective July 1, 2000. The new Charter created a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils. The goal of the Neighborhood Councils is to promote public participation in City Governance and decision-making processes to create a government more responsive to local needs.

Founded September 4, 1781.
Incorporated April 4, 1850.
Total area: 472.08 m2

Extreme distance north and south 44 miles
Extreme east and west 29 miles
Length of City Boundary 342 miles
Elevation: sea level to 5,080 feet (Elsie Peak)
Average elevation: 275 feet

MayorMore than any other City official, the Mayor is held responsible for City affairs. The Mayor submits recommendations and proposals to the Council; approves or vetoes ordinances passed by the Council; and is active in enforcing City ordinances. The Mayor submits the annual budget and presides over subsequent appropriations and transfers; is involved in appointing (and in some cases even removing) many City officials and commissioners; secures cooperation amid the City departments; receives and examines complaints against officers and employees; and coordinates foreign and domestic visiting dignitaries with private and public organizations. The Mayor is also the Director of the Emergency Operations Organization.
City Council

Council committees

City departments

There are a total of 41 departments.

Police Department
Fire Department
Public Works Department
Board of Public Works
Bureau of Contract Administration
Bureau of Engineering
Bureaus of Sanitation
Bureau of Street Lighting
Bureau of Street Devices
Department of Water and Power
Harbor Department
office of finance
city clerk
city attorney

Additional depts: Treasurer, office. Zoo department. Transportation department. Re reaction and parks, department of. Planning department. Personnel department. Neighborhood empowerment, department of. Library department. Los Angeles city employee's retirement system. Infortaion technology agency. Human relations commission. Housing department. Housing authority of the city of Los angeles. General devices department. Fire and police pensions department. Environmental affairs department. Employee relations board. Emergency preparedness department. El pueblo de Los Angeles historic monument authority department. Department on disability. Cultural affairs department. Convention center department. Controller. Community redevelopment agency. Community develoment depsrtment. Commission on the status of women. Commission for children, youth and their fsmilies. City ethics commission. City administrative officer. Building and safety department. Animal services department. Airports, Los Angeles World. Aging, Department of.


Your government at a glace. Facts about the city of Los angeles. Compiled by frank T Martinez, city clerk. 2006 edition.