City Structure and Departments

City Organizational Structure

Cities are a political subdivision that exist to provide the specific services desired by the population within a defined area.  Cities serve to address the community’s defined, unique health and welfare interests of its residents and business community, provide local control and leadership over the community, locally determine the vision and destiny of the community, and maintain the community’s character through local laws.

The City of Rancho Palos Verdes like most cities in the State is a “general law” city.  This means that the City’s powers are limited to the authority granted to it by the State Legislature and California Constitution.   As a general law city, Rancho Palos Verdes provides services to the public mandated by and under the provisions of State of California statutes.  

Council/Manager Form of Government

There are two basic forms of City government.  Most large cities in the country are the Mayor/Council form (like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia).  This form mirrors the State and Federal government in that the Mayor serves as the president and Chief Executive Officer of the City Council and City, and the City Council services in the capacity of the legislature.   There are some exceptions to this, notably Long Beach, Sacramento, and Phoenix to name a few.  Most cities in the country are the Council/Manager form of government.  

In the Council/Manager form of government, the Mayor and Council have equal authority and an equal vote on the City Council in directing the City Manager, providing policy direction, and allocating City resources.  It takes a majority of the Council to make decisions and direct the City Manager.  No one Council member can direct an action or staff, nor do Council members have a direct connection to staff below the City Manager.  The Mayor and Council together serve as a “Board of Directors” setting policy in the form of creating laws, allocating resources (the budget), and making land use decisions.  

The Council appoints two positions – the City Manager and the City Attorney.  City personnel report to the City Manager.  The separation precludes an individual’s political or personal interests from influencing the administration and delivery of services to the public.  As such, the City Council must work together in a collaborative and collegial manner to build a consensus at providing policy and legislative direction to the City Manager.  It is not necessary that individual City Council members agree on everything before them, however, it is important and valuable to be thoughtful and respectful of different perspectives and respect the decision of the majority.

City Departments

Administration Department
The Administration Department supports the administrative functions of the City. Under the aegis of the City Council, the City Manager proposes policies and programs, carries out directives voted by the City Council, and develops a long-range view of City problems, needs, goals, and objectives for consideration by the City Council. The City Manager also prepares general rules and regulations necessary for the conduct of the administrative offices and departments of the City and supervises the preparation of the City's budget and financial reports each fiscal year. The following divisions fall under the Administration department:

Finance Department
The Finance Department is responsible for a broad range of core financial duties, operational and capital budgeting, long-term forecasting and planning, fiscal policy development, banking and investments support, financial system administration; maintaining internal controls; compliance with regulatory reporting, annual audits, State Controller’s filings, various Tax reporting, state and federal grant tracking as well as numerous other county, state and federal government fiscal requirements. The department also handles general tax filings and debt administration and guides.  

Community Development Department
The purpose of the Community Development Department is to ensure the orderly physical development of the community by upholding the goals and policies of the city’s General Plan through the issuance of land use entitlements and permits for improvements and development of private property. The Community Development consists of four divisions:

Public Works Department
The Public Works Department oversees Traffic and Civil Engineering, Urban Forestry, Parklands management, code enforcement, special projects, rights-of-way permits, utility coordination, project management, capital improvement planning, street maintenance, tree and Parkland’s maintenance, building maintenance and fire & weed abatement.

Recreation and Parks Department
The Recreation and Parks Department is responsible for managing and operating a comprehensive park system, administering services in the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, and coordinating numerous community activities. The Recreation and Parks Department manages the programs, including: 

Los Angeles County Fire Department
The City of Rancho Palos Verdes contracts with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for fire suppression, enforcement of the Fire Code, and paramedic services.  Concurrently, Los Angeles County also provides emergency ambulance services, rescue, property inspection for defensible space and building plan check.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
The City contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for general law enforcement services and is served by the Lomita Sheriff’s Station through a joint regional law enforcement agreement with the Cities of Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates.  The Station’s performance is overseen by the Regional Contract Law Committee, which meets quarterly and consists of two councilmembers from each participating city. Law enforcement services include patrol services, traffic and parking enforcement, general and specialized investigations, and various crime prevention services and programs.

Commissions and Committees

The City’s Commission and Committees meet independent of the City Council to develop decisions, conclusions and recommendations without Council and Council member influence that may prejudice or affect subsequent City Council consideration of the Commission/Committee action.  

Residents of Rancho Palos Verdes have a history of active involvement in the City and a strong commitment to volunteer community service. Accordingly, the City Council appoints interested and qualified residents to both standing and ad hoc committees as necessary from time to time. Each committee reviews matters under its purview and advises the Council.  Interested residents who would like to serve on a committee may submit resumes to the City Clerk when there are openings. Openings are announced in the City Newsletter and through the City’s noticing procedures and practices.

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