Welcome to the Government page. Please use the menus at the left and above to dive into content such as the City's Municipal Code, the City Council, advisory bodies, elections, department directory, and other important information. Following is a brief overview of San Luis Obispo's governmental structure.
The City of San Luis Obispo is a Charter City. This means we have more “local home rule” authority than cities who incorporate under the “general laws” of the State of California. The City Charter is the City’s “Constitution,” and any changes must be approved by the voters. While the City was first incorporated in 1856, we did not become a Charter City until 1876. The City’s Charter has been amended several times since its adoption. It was last comprehensively updated in 1955, and the most recent amendments were adopted by the voters in 2011.
Form of Government
As set forth in the City Charter, our City operates under the “Council-Mayor-Administrative Officer” form of government. The City Council has the authority to make and enforce all laws and regulations with respect to municipal affairs, subject only to the limitations of the City Charter and the State Constitution.
The elected officers of the City are the Mayor and four Council Members. Council Members are elected at-large and serve overlapping, four-year terms. The Mayor is also elected at-large for a two year term, and serves as an equal member of the City Council. These terms provide for three vacancies at each City election, which is held in November of even-numbered years. Terms begin on the first day in December following the election.
The City Council appoints the City Manager and the City Attorney. All other department heads are appointed by the City Manager. Click here for a Directory of City Officials.
Organizational Structure, Mission, and Values
The City of San Luis Obispo is organized into nine departments that serve the public in carrying out the policies and programs of the City Council, and implementing the City's charter and municipal code. Its mission statement explains the organization's focus in carrying its responsibilities. The organizational values guide and inspire our efforts in the day to day operations of the City.