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Charter Agencies


In California, some public agencies are “charter” agencies. This means that they have special powers.

  • Charter Cities. The residents of a city can vote to have their city become a charter city. That means, among other things, that the city’s organization and manner of operation is determined by a charter, as opposed to certain state laws, which apply to “general law cities.” The charter is a “mini-constitution” for the city and determines how the city is organized, operated, and authorized to provide for municipal functions. It also includes limitations that the residents of that city may legally choose to place on the city. Generally, charter cities have an extra measure of independence from certain kinds of state requirements, such as establishing their own election dates, rules, and procedures, that would otherwise apply as a general law city. More Information >>
  • Charter Counties. Like charter cities, charter counties operate according to a charter adopted by county voters. Charter counties have authority relating to the election, compensation, terms, removal, and salary of the governing board; for the election or appointment (except the sheriff, district attorney, and assessor who must be elected), compensation, terms, and removal of all county officers; for the powers and duties of all officers; and for consolidation and segregation of county offices.
  • Charter Schools. Charter schools are governed by the terms of their charters and by certain state laws, as well as the federal laws that govern public school districts. Charter schools’ governance structures vary widely, with some being under the authority of the district’s governing board (or the County Office of Education or the State Board of Education), and others operating autonomously. The entity that approved the charter is responsible for certain oversight functions, and has authority to revoke the charter under certain circumstances, but is otherwise not responsible for the charter school’s operations.

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