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Charter City

There are two types of cities in California – charter and general law. Charter cities follow the laws set forth in the state’s constitution along with their own adopted “charter” document. General law cities follow the laws set forth by the state legislature.

In the June 3, 2008, primary election City of Carlsbad residents voted to approve the charter city measure, Proposition D, by an overwhelming 82 percent. The California Secretary of State officially approved the city charter on July 21, 2008. 

The charter maintained the City of Carlsbad’s form of government, known as the “council-manager” system, in which the City Council sets policy guidelines for the city, and those guidelines are carried out under the supervision of the city manager.

The charter gives the city more flexibility on such issues as purchasing and contracting, because the process mandated by the state can be expensive and cumbersome, causing project delays. Certain affairs, such as traffic and vehicle regulation, open and public meetings laws, certain planning and environmental laws, and eminent domain, remain matters of state authority even as a charter city.

At a glance, the charter:

  • Grants the maximum power of “home rule” for local authority over local issues
  • Reaffirms the principles of growth management as outlined in the Growth Management Proposition E, passed by City of Carlsbad voters in 1986
  • Retains the maximum flexibility for the City Council allowable under law to pass laws to benefit City of Carlsbad residents
  • Results in no additional government costs, and the charter does not enhance the city’s authority to impose or raise taxes