Government of Los Angeles County

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The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration where the Board of Supervisors meets.

The Government of Los Angeles County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, California law, and the Charter of the County of Los Angeles.[1] Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of county governments, such as the Government of Los Angeles County. The County government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, health care, and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.

It is composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors, several other elected offices including the Sheriff, District Attorney, and Assessor, and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the Chief Executive Officer.

Some chartered cities such as Los Angeles and Inglewood provide municipal services such as police, libraries, parks and recreation, and zoning. Other cities arrange to have the County provide some or all of these services under contract. In addition, several entities of the government of California have jurisdiction coterminous with Los Angeles County, such as the Los Angeles Superior Court.


Board of Supervisors[edit]

Under its foundational Charter, the five-member elected Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) is the county legislature. The board operates in a legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacity. As a legislative authority, it can pass ordinances for the unincorporated areas (ordinances that affect the whole county, like posting of restaurant ratings, must be ratified by the individual city). As an executive body, it can tell the county departments what to do, and how to do it. As a quasi-judicial body, the Board is the final venue of appeal in the local planning process, and holds public hearings on various agenda items. The board members as of 2 December 2008 were:

A local nickname sometimes used for the board is the "five little kings".[2][3]

Elected officers[edit]

In addition to the Board of Supervisors, there are several elected officers that form the Government of Los Angeles County that are required by the California Constitution and California law, and authorized under the Charter.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff provides general-service law enforcement to unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, serving as the equivalent of the county police for unincorporated areas of the county, as well as incorporated cities within the county that have contracted with the agency for law-enforcement services . Forty of the eighty eight cities in Los Angeles County are just such "contract cities," in an arrangement pioneered in 1954 by the city of Lakewood, California and is known as the Lakewood Plan.[4]

The Los Angeles County District Attorney prosecutes felony and misdemeanor crimes that occur within the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County, California.

The Los Angeles County Assessor is the assessor responsible for discovering all taxable property in Los Angeles County, except for state-assessed property, to inventory and list all the taxable property, to value the property, and to enroll the property on the local assessment roll.

Other departments[edit]

Chief Executive Officer[edit]

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), also known the Chief Administrative Officer, assists the Board of Supervisors in handling the mounting administrative details of the County and is responsible for making recommendations to the Board.

The CEO has direct supervision over 31 of the 37 departments, while the other 8 departments—Assessor, Auditor-Controller, Community Development Commission, County Counsel, District Attorney, Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors, Fire, and Sheriff—do not report to the CEO.

Public safety[edit]

  • Los Angeles County Coroner – performs autopsies and determines the cause of death for those who die without medical supervision.


Children and families[edit]

  • Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services - administers foster care.


  • Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors
  • Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation[5] – administers public parks and the largest public golf course system in the U.S.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning[6] – responsible for planning functions for unincorporated areas. The Department maintains the Zoning Code that regulates land use in the unincorporated areas, researches and facilitates land-use decisions, and serves to connect the community to the established building regulations. It supports the Regional Planning Commission, a five-member quasi-judicial body under the Board of Supervisors.



  • The Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller is responsible for allocating collected taxes to the appropriate taxing jurisdictions such as the county, cities, schools and special districts within the county, receipts, and financial reporting.[8] The Auditor-Controller is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.[8]
  • Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services – administers foster care
  • Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles[9] serves as the County's housing authority as well as the housing and community and economic development agency with wide-ranging programs that benefit residents and business owners in unincorporated County areas and in various incorporated cities.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs – offers consumers in the county a variety of services including: consumer and real estate counseling, mediation, and small claims counseling. The department also investigates: consumer complains, real estate fraud and identity theft issues.


The Los Angeles County Code is the codified law of the County in the form of ordinances passed by the Board of Supervisors. Every act prohibited or declared unlawful, and every failure to perform an act required, by the ordinances are misdemeanor crimes, unless otherwise specified as infractions.[13]


As of 2015, the Board of Supervisors oversees a $26.35 billion annual budget[14] and approximately 100,000 employees.


The county was targeted with the threat of legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2004 regarding a small cross on the Seal of Los Angeles County. The ACLU said that separation of church and state prohibited this display. On September 14, 2004, the seal was modified to address this and other complaints.[15][16]

Other governments[edit]


Further information: Government of California

In the State Senate, the 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th, and 30th districts are entirely within the county, as well as much of the 21st, 25th, 27th, 29th, and 32nd districts.

In the State Assembly, the 39th, 43rd, 46th, 48th, 49th, 50th, 51st, 53rd, 54th, 57th, 58th, 59th, 62nd, 63rd, 64th, 66th, and 70th districts are entirely within the county, most of the 36th, 38th, 41st, and 45th districts are in the county, and parts of the 44th, 52nd, 55th districts are in the county.

The Los Angeles Superior Court, which covers the entire county, is not a County department but a division of the State's trial court system. Historically, the courthouses were county-owned buildings that were maintained at county expense, which created significant friction since the trial court judges, as officials of the state government, had to lobby the county Board of Supervisors for facility renovations and upgrades. In turn, the state judiciary successfully persuaded the state Legislature to authorize the transfer of all courthouses to the state government in 2008 and 2009 (so that judges would have direct control over their own courthouses). Courthouse security is still provided by the county government under a contract with the state.

Los Angeles[edit]

The Government of Los Angeles operates as a charter city (as opposed to a general law city) under the Charter of the City of Los Angeles. The elected government is composed of the Los Angeles City Council with 15 city council districts and the Mayor of Los Angeles. which operate under a mayor-council government, as well as the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Los Angeles City Controller. In addition, there are numerous departments and appointed officers such as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) including the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), and the Los Angeles City Clerk.

School districts[edit]

Special districts[edit]

The Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LALAFCo) is the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for Los Angeles County and regulates special districts within its jurisdiction.


The current charter was proposed by the Los Angeles County Board of Freeholders on 24 September 1912, ratified by the electorate on 5 November 1912, filed with the California Secretary of State on 29 January 1913, and became effective 2 June 1913. It was the first local government to be granted Home Rule in the United States since the 1911 Home Rule Amendment was added to the Constitution.[17][18]


  1. ^ California Government Code § 23004
  2. ^ Jeffe, Sherry Bebitch (8 April 1990). "Supervisors: Our Powerful 'Little Kings' : Government: Five white males govern a multi-ethnic county of 9 million. How to change the rules?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Boyarsky, Bill (7 December 1990). "The 5 Little Kings Who Are No More". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Welcome to contract law enforcement". Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
  6. ^ Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning
  7. ^ "AB 2131 (2011-2012) Bill Analysis of the Senate Governance And Finance Committee on 06/28/12". California Legislative Counsel. Retrieved 27 July 2013. In 52 of the 58 counties, the offices of county treasurer and county tax collector are consolidated under a single elected officer. In Los Angeles County, the Treasurer-Tax Collector is appointed by the board of supervisors. Five other counties have consolidated the treasurer and tax collector offices under an appointed director of finance. 
  8. ^ a b "Auditor-Controller". California State Association of Counties. Retrieved 27 July 2013. In 54 of the 58 counties, the Auditor-Controller is an independent, nonpartisan elected office established to provide various accounting and property tax administration services to the county government, special districts, schools, and cities. The four counties with appointed officers are: 1) San Francisco, Controller appointed for eight years; 2) Santa Clara, appointed Director of Finance; 3) Los Angeles, appointed Auditor-Controller; and 4) San Diego, appointed Auditor and Controller. The Auditor-Controller is the chief accounting officer of the county responsible for budget control, disbursements and receipts, and financial reporting. In addition, this office is responsible for audits of certain agencies within the county. Also, the position may be combined with the treasurer-tax collector position, with the title Director of Finance, and/or county recorder, or even the county clerk. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "LACOE > Board of Education". Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "LACHSA Overview". Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  12. ^ California Government Code § 31450 et seq.
  13. ^ California Government Code § 25132.
  14. ^ "2014-15 Adopted Budget Charts" (PDF). Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ Kennedy, J. Michael (May 25, 2004). "County Seal Has a Cross the ACLU Can't Bear". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  16. ^ "County Insignia History". Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  17. ^ Boyer, Paul Samuel (2001). The Oxford Companion to United States History. Oxford University Press. p. 523. ISBN 0-19-508209-5. 
  18. ^ Miller, E. J. (August 1913). Flack, Horace E., ed. "A New Departure in County Government: California's Experiment with Home Rule Charters". American Political Science Review 7 (3): 411–419. JSTOR 1944966. 

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