How the City Works!
Redwood City is a “charter
In California, there are two kinds of cities: charter cities
and general law cities. Of the 477 cities in the state, 105,
including Redwood City, are chartered meaning that the legal
authority for the city's acts originates with a city
charter, rather than from the laws of the State of California.
But what is a charter city? The authority provided in the state
constitution to organize as a charter city is extended only to an
existing city. Charters are adopted by cities where special conditions
create needs that can’t be adequately met by the general laws.
Since the powers of a charter city are not restricted to only those
outlined in the general state municipal law, a city can adopt a
charter and custom-tailor its organization and elective offices
to provide for unique local conditions and needs. A charter can
only be adopted and /or changed by a majority vote of city residents
-- not by a vote of the city council. Citizens can establish the
terms and number of council members and impose other limitations
upon their city council through a charter provision.
(some of this information is from the League
of California Cities website)
City uses the “council-manager” form of government
Redwood City operates under the ‘council-manager’ form
of government, meaning that the Council appoints the city manager,
who is then responsible for the administrative and staff-appointment
duties. The Council also appoints the city attorney and the city
clerk, and makes appointments to City boards and commissions. But,
contrary to the ‘strong mayor’ form of government (such
as that in Oakland, San Francisco, and other larger cities), the day-to-day
operations of the City are under the authority of the city manager.
Council’s policy-making role
The City Council consists of seven members, elected by the voters
of the City to staggered terms of four years each. Members receive
$750 per month compensation. The City Council meets regularly on
three Mondays of each month, and may call additional special sessions.
Section 10 of the City Charter provides that "all powers granted
to and vested in Redwood City by law or provisions of this Charter
shall, except as herein otherwise provided be exercised by the Council,
to be designated the `Council of Redwood City.' The Council shall
be the governing body of the City and, subject to the express limitations
of this Charter, shall be vested with all the powers necessary or
convenient for a complete and adequate system of municipal government,
consistent with the constitution of the State, including all powers
now or hereafter granted by general law to councils or boards of
trustees of municipalities."
The City Council is the only body elected directly by the residents
of Redwood City. As the legislative branch of the government, it
makes final decisions on all major city matters. The Council adopts
ordinances and resolutions necessary for efficient governmental
operations, approves the budget, and acts as a board of appeals.
It appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk and
also the members of the City's boards, committees and commissions.
The City Council develops broad, two-year
policy priorities which are updated annually. Each priority
contains a range of specific programs, projects, policies,
or processes which the City Manager, Department Directors,
and staff use in developing the actual detailed work programs
for the various City departments. In short, the Council develops
policy, and the City Manager and staff implement those policies
on a day-to-day basis.
In addition to the three or four public Council meetings every
month, the City Manager meets weekly with the Mayor and Vice Mayor,
and also has meetings with other members of the Council individually
or as part of ad hoc or standing committees, on an as-needed basis.
Through these meetings and other contact with Council members, the
City Manager is able to distill their policy direction into action
for the City.
The City Manager manages the department directors, who in turn
supervise the managers within that department. Redwood City enjoys
a flexible and de-centralized work environment which allows people
to make decisions at every level of the organization. This provides
the ability to react quickly to changing circumstances, to revise
our priorities as needed, and to best address our constituents’
The City Manager meets weekly with the entire group of department
directors, and individually on an as-needed basis. The purpose
of these meetings is to provide direction and guidance to
the directors in carrying out the policies of the Council.