Charlotte Laws, Ph.D.
Member of the
 Greater Valley Glen Council
21781 Ventura Blvd., Suite 633
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Tel.  818.346.5280
Fax.  818.985.1690

Dr. Charlotte Laws - Councilperson Valley Glen

Information about Los Angeles

Founded Incorporated
September 4, 1781 April 4, 1850

1990 U.S. Census 3,485,398
1980 U.S. Census 2,966,763
1970 U.S. Census 2,811,801
1960 U.S. Census 2,479,015
1950 U.S. Census 1,970,358
1940 U.S. Census 1,504,277
1930 U.S. Census 1,238,048


465.9 sqare miles
Extreme distance north and south 44 miles
East and west 25 miles
Length of City Boundary 315 miles


Elevation ranging from sea level to 5,080 feet (Elsie Peak.) Average elevation about 275 feet.


Mean over 80-year period 64.4
Highest - September 1, 1955 110.0
Lowerst - January 4, 1949 27.9


Normal Annual 14.68 inches

Form of Government

Mayor-Council-Commission form as provided by Freeholders' Charter effective July 1, 1925. Mayor, City Controller, and City Attorney elected by the people every four years. Fifteen City Council members representing fifteen districts are elected by the people for four-year terms. Members of Commissions are generally appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the City Council. With but few exceptions all other officials and employees of the City are subject to civil service provisions of the Charter.

City Hall

200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles 90012,
(213) 485-2121

City Hall South

111 E. First Street, Los Angeles 90012

City Hall East

200 N. Main Street, Los Angeles 90012

East Mall and Underground Parking

Founding and Incorporation

The first settlers of the City of Los Angeles consisted of 14 families numbering 44 individuals. The ceremonies founding the City took place on September 4, 1781. At this time, Colonel Felipe De Neve, who was then Governor of the Spanish Province of Alta California, officially applied the name "El Pueblo del la Reina de Los Angeles" or "The Town of the Queen of the Angels."

The City of Los Angeles was incorporated on April 4, 1850. At that time it had an population of 1610 (U.S. Census) and an area of 28 square miles. It did not have a graded street, a sidewalk, a water system, lights, nor a single public building of its own. Every citizen on Saturday morning swept or cleaned up the street in front of his own domicile. Street lighting was simple, for each owener whose house faced the street was obliged to put a light at the door in front of his house during the first two hours of every dark night.

Los Angeles Today

Today Los Angeles has a population of over three million people, an area of 465 square miles, 7,366 miles of streets, water and power brought from mountains hundreds of miles away, and thousands of publicly-owned structures of various types. The friendly lanters that once hung at the door have been replaced with electrolier lights and utilitarian lights. Adobe houses have been replaced with modern buildings and residences; volunteer police and fire departments have been succeeded by highly trained, properly equipped and well organized municipal forces, and mud flats have been dredged to become one of the world's busiest harbors at Wilmington and San Pedro.

Citizens' Interests

Your City government touches your life at more points more frequently than any other governmental agency, be it federal, state, or county. The City government furnishes water, supplies electricity, provides ambulance, police, sanitation and fire services, maintains streets, maintains parks and provides other essential services to citiziens.

Municipal Organization

The basic law of the government of the City of Los Angeles is found in the City Charter, adopted by a vote of the people in 1924, effective July 1, 1925, and subsequently amended from time to time. 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 39 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 salary of members of the Board of Public Works, the only full-time board, is by ordinance. The members of most citizen boards receive a minimum of $50 per meeting. Members of the Airport, Harbor, and Water and Power Boards receive $50 per meeting not to exceed $250 per month.

City Leaders

The Mayor

The mayor serves as the elected head of City government, is elected at large and serves a four-year term. The mayor, more than any other City official, is held responsible for the conduct of City affairs. As executive officer of the City, the Mayor submits proposals and recommendations to the Council, approves or vetoes ordinances passed by the Council, and is active in the enforcement of the ordinances of the City. The Mayor recommends and submits the annual budget and passes upon subsequent appropriations and transfers; appoints and may remove certain City officials and commissioners, subject to confirmation by the Council; secures cooperation between the departments of the City; receives and examines complaints made against officers and employees; and coordinates visits of foreign and domestic dignitaries with concerned public and private organizations. The Mayor is also Director of the Emergency Operations Organization.

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, quarters, equipment, and supplies for the budgetary departments. The Council confirms or rejects appointments proposed by the Mayor, and prescribes duties of boards or officers not defined by Charter.

The first City Council of seven members, held its initial meeeting on July 3, 1850. 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 now consists of fifteen members elected by districts. The Council meets at ten o'clock in the morning in the Council Chamber of the City Hall three days each week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Meetings are open to the public.

Council Members shoulder a responsibility far heavier than most citizens suspect. The average citizen's first thought when a problem arises is to write, telephone, or call upon the Council Member. The reason is obvious. The Council Member knows the district and the constituents with more intimate understanding than can more distant representatives, and a citizen can know the Council Member by simply dropping in at the City Hall, or by attending public meetings. This is why, in spite of rigid separation among legislative, executive, and judicial branches of municipal government, Council Members constantly receive requests for adjustment of matters beyond their jurisdiction.

The Council is provided technical assistance by the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office. Personnel from this office are assigned to work with various Council Committees and the Council as a whole to gather information which the Council may require for passage of City legislation.

Council Committees

Committees: As required by the City Charter, the Council is organized into fifteen committees to facilitate adequate consideration of matters subject to its attention. All are appointed by the President. Each Council member is the chairperson of one committee and a member of two others. Special committees are appointed and function in accordance with the authority creating them.

Committees meet at a time set, or upon call of the Chairperson. Through reports and hearings, they obtain information on matters under consideration and make recommendations thereon to the Council in the form of signed written reports which are briefed on an Agenda by the City clerk for the information of individual Council Members, City Departments, and the public.