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. 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.
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. These were the board members as of 2 December 2008:Hilda Solis, district 1
Mark Ridley-Thomas, district 2
Sheila Kuehl, district 3
Janice Hahn, district 4
Kathryn Barger, district 5
A local nickname sometimes used for the board is the "five little kings."
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. Of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, 40 are just such "contract cities," in an arrangement pioneered in 1954 by the city of Lakewood, California and known as the Lakewood Plan.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney prosecutes all felony crimes the occur anywhere within Los Angeles County (cities and unincorporated areas), and any misdemeanor crimes that occur within the unincorporated areas of the county, and for any city that has abdicated this responsibility to the county. The City of Los Angeles, for example, has its own city attorney to handle most misdemeanor crimes and infractions the occurred within the City of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Assessor is the assessor responsible for discovering all taxable property in Los Angeles County except for state-assessed property and inventorying and listing all the taxable property, valuing the property, and enrolling the property on the local assessment roll.
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 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.Los Angeles County Coroner: performs autopsies and determines the cause of death for those who die without medical supervision.
Los Angeles County Public Defender: defends indigent criminal suspects
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services: operates several county hospitals and a network of primary care clinics, and also runs the public health care system such as Healthy Way L.A. (Low Income Health Program)
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
L.A. Care Health Plan: a non-profit public health plan created to help Los Angeles County residents obtain affordable health care.
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: administers foster care.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services: administers many federal and state welfare programs within the county, such as Medi-Cal (Medicaid), CalFresh (food stamps), and CalWORKs (TANF).
Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors
Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation – administers public parks and the largest public golf course system in the U.S.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works: operates countywide flood control system, constructs and maintains roads in unincorporated areas
Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning: 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.
Los Angeles County Public Library: operates a large network of branch libraries
The Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector: responsible for billing and collecting taxes. The Treasurer-Tax Collector is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: public art museum
Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller: 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. The Auditor-Controller is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: administers foster care
Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles 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 Fire Department: provides fire protection, suppression, and prevention as well as emergency medical services
Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division: (portrayed in the famous television series Baywatch).
Los Angeles County Probation Department
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.
Los Angeles County Board of Education: maintains the policies for governance of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and appoints the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. It is composed of seven members who are appointed by the Board of Supervisors to two- and four-year terms. In general, the LACOE's only direct authority over local districts is in matters of interdistrict attendance appeals, school district boundary changes, and expulsion appeals. The LACOE directly operates the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in partnership with California State University, Los Angeles, and the International Polytechnic High School in partnership with the Cal Poly Pomona College of Education and Integrative Studies.
Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA): administers defined retirement plan benefits for the employees of Los Angeles County and outside districts pursuant to the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937
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 is a misdemeanor, unless otherwise specified as an infraction.
As of 2015, the Board of Supervisors oversees a $26.35 billion annual budget and approximately 100,000 employees.
The county was targeted with the threat of legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union at various points in time regarding a small cross on the Seal of Los Angeles County. The ACLU said that separation of church and state prohibited this display.The seal has been modified numerous times in response to this complaint and other concerns.
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.
The City of Los Angeles government 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.
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.