Los Angeles City Council
|3 terms (12 years)|
|Founded||February 25, 1889|
|Preceded by||Los Angeles Common Council|
since October 18, 2022
President pro Tempore
since June 20, 2023
Assistant President pro Tempore
since June 20, 2023
|November 8, 2022|
|November 5, 2024|
|Los Angeles City Hall|
1 John Ferraro Council Chamber, Room 340
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3224
The head of the City Council is the President, who presides over meetings of the council, gives assignments to City Council committees, handles parliamentary duties, and serves as Acting Mayor of Los Angeles when the Mayor is unable to perform their duties. The current President is Paul Krekorian, a Democrat from the 2nd district. The current President pro Tempore is Marqueece Harris-Dawson from the 8th district. The current Assistant President pro Tempore is Bob Blumenfield from the 3rd district.
As a nonpartisan council, the City Council does not have a Majority Leader or Minority Leader, but the Council is currently controlled by a Democratic majority with one Independent. The City Council has been nonpartisan since the passage of the 1909 city charter.
Council members are elected every four years, with the City Council redistricting every ten years based the previous United States census. Elections happen concurrently with other local and national elections, doing so since 2020.
|President pro Tem||Marqueece Harris-Dawson||Democratic||8||2023|
|Asst. President pro Tem||Bob Blumenfield||Democratic||3||2023|
|5||Katy Young Yaroslavsky||Democratic||2022|
|14||Kevin de León||Democratic||2020|
City Councilmembers can have their salary rescinded if they are suspended on the City Council. The City Council can also control who can get pay if a member is suspended; when Mark Ridley-Thomas pay was suspended by City Controller Ron Galperin after his suspension from the City Council, but his pay was reinstated after a council vote as he was not indicted. The decision was then reversed by Galperin's successor, Kenneth Mejia.
The Los Angeles City Council is guided by the Los Angeles City Charter. The Charter defines the City Council as the city's legislature, with the Mayor of Los Angeles serving as the executive branch of the city's government creating a strong mayor–council government, though the mayor is weaker than cities like New York City. The City Council approves department heads and commissioners picked by the Mayor, amends or approves the Mayor's annual budget, and approve the Mayor's local emergencies to which it reviews afterwards.
The Charter also gives powers for redistricting, as the City Council picks some of the members on the charter commission to advise the council on redistricting but with the City Council having the ability to overrule the commission.
The City Council also has a direct line of communication between it and the 99 local Neighborhood Councils, which serve as advisory groups for the officials.
Los Angeles Common Council (1850–1889)
Before the incorporation of Los Angeles in 1850, members (regidores) of a municipal council (ayuntamiento) were chosen by the residents of each pueblo since 1812, with the number of regidores being based on the population. By 1835, the new city had four regidores, alongside two Alcaldes (Mayor) and one Síndico Procurador (City Attorney). On April 4, 1850, the Los Angeles Common Council was established alongside the office of Mayor under The Act of Incorporation as the city grew from a remote town of 5,000 residents to a city of 15,000 residents. At its creation, the council had seven seats elected at-large with the members being elected by drawn lots. In 1857, the officials that were elected on May 6 were deposed and the officials from the previous year were reinstated, though they never took office. The council added three seats in 1868.
On July 14, 1870, the council switched to a ward system with three new wards with three seats. The Third ward added a fourth seat in 1871, three years before the First and Second wards added a fourth seat. In 1878, the First and Second wards removed the fourth seat while the third ward removed it in 1881. In 1878, the council created two new wards, the Fourth and Fifth wards, each with three new seats. By the end of the first ward system, the council had fifteen seats.
The councilmembers had various responsibilities for governing the city which included being appointed to committees, which included a school committee which later became the Board of Education for the Los Angeles City School District and later the Los Angeles Unified School District. The office of the President of the Los Angeles City Council was also part of the Council's creation, with the first President being David W. Alexander.
Creation of Los Angeles City Council and second ward system (1889–1909)
In 1888, voters in Los Angeles passed a new charter that changed the government. The Common Council was now called the City Council and had nine seats for nine new wards. Members were elected to two year terms beginning in 1890, with one member being elected from each of the nine wards by a plurality vote. The change was granted by the California State Legislature, with the first election being in August 1889. The first election under that charter was held on February 21, 1889, and the last on December 4, 1906. Only Austin Conrad Shafer of the 5th ward was re-elected to the new City Council.
Second at-large system (1909–1925)
By 1909, the ward system was leading to corruption within the city council and its elections, and various newspapers suggested that the City Council have ten seats and five at-large seats, resulting in fifteen seats total, or moving to an at-large system. That year, voters replaced the ward system with an at-large system through the Direct Municipal Primary law. They also voted to adjust the party system to have all offices become nonpartisan.
In the first election, candidates were labeled as part of the Good Government Organization, created by political boss Meyer Lissner, or part of the "political machine" with S. P. Yoke, as the city had installed a new nonpartisan election system. In 1923, candidates were either a part of the Municipal Conference, also organized by Lissner, the People's Campaign Committee, the Socialist Party of America, or independent.
In 1915, journalist Estelle Lawton Lindsey was elected to the City Council, being the first female City Councilmember in the City Council just four years after women had voted in municipal elections for the first time. She would be the only woman to serve during this system as well as the only woman to serve in the City Council until the election of Rosalind Wiener Wyman in 1953.
Creation of fifteen-member council (1925–2000)
On July 1, 1925, people in Los Angeles voted to pass a new city charter and replaced the at-large system with a district system with fifteen new districts and fifteen members for each one. Each district was to be approximately equal in population, based upon the voting in the 1922 California gubernatorial election, and would redistrict every four years. The numbering system established for the City Council districts began with the 1st district in the San Fernando Valley and ended with the 15th district in the Los Angeles Harbor Region. In 1928, the new Los Angeles City Hall was completed, and the City Council moved to a room within the City Hall from the previous Romanesque Revival building used.
By 1986, the City Council was under a court ruling to redistrict itself to provide more representation for Latinos in the city. On August 12, 1986, Councilman Howard Finn died, leaving the 1st district vacant, and the City Council and residence debated on how the districts would be redistricted. The City Council voted to have the 1st district redrawn to be northwest and north of Downtown Los Angeles while the 2nd district, represented by Joel Wachs, was placed in the Sunland-Tujunga and Van Nuys areas. In 1993, voters approved the adoption of term limits for the City Council, with the new limits being eight years of elected service.
After the creation of the fifteen-member council, politicians who were not white men were increasingly being elected to the City Council. On July 1, 1949, Edward R. Roybal became the first Latino American to be elected to the City Council. On January 28, 1963, Gilbert W. Lindsay became the first African-American to serve on the council, being appointed to serve out Roybal's term. On April 16, 1963, the first elected African-American elected to the City Council, Tom Bradley, was sworn in, which also made the City Council a Democratic majority for the first time in recent history. On July 1, 1985, Michael Woo was sworn in, marking the first Asian American to be in the City Council. On February 3, 1987, Gloria Molina was sworn in, being the first Latina to be elected to the City Council.
Strong mayor-council system (2000–present)
In 1999, voters approved a new city charter that would go into effect on July 1, 2000. The new charter helped create the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and helped strengthen the office of Mayor in relation to the City Council. Voters also voted against expanding the city council, remaining with fifteen seats. In 2006, voters approved a ballot measure that changed the term limits from eight years to twelve years.
In 2015, voters in Los Angeles approved a charter amendment to move the election dates from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, in line with other national elections, in an effort to boost political engagement. Because of the change in dates, officials elected in 2015 or 2017 had their terms extended. In 2022, because of the scandal involving the City Council and the redistricting process, Acting President Mitch O'Farrell introduced a motion that would create a ballot measure in 2024 to expand the City Council. In 2023, the first all-female council committee was formed, with the six women on the council forming the committee. In November 2022, the Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance Reform was formed, chaired by the next President Paul Krekorian, to reform the redistricting process.
- Los Angeles Common Council
- President of the Los Angeles City Council
- Government of Los Angeles
- Mayor of Los Angeles
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