California is divided into fifty-eight counties. Counties are responsible for all elections, property-tax collection, maintenance of public records such as deeds, and local-level courts within their borders, as well as providing law enforcement (through the county sheriff and sheriff's deputies) to areas that do not lie within incorporated cities.
County website evaluation
- Main article: Evaluation of California county websites
As of the end of 2008:
- 50 counties posted their budgets online.
- 58 counties posted information online about county board meetings.
- 50 had information about elected officials.
- 21 had information about the county's administrative officials.
- 48 had information about building permits and zoning.
- 44 had audit information.
- 33 had information about vendor contracts.
- 2 posted information about their associations with government sector lobbying groups.
- 23 posted information about how to obtain public records using the California Public Records Act.
- 44 posted information about local taxes.
Types of counties
The California Constitution recognizes two types of counties:
- General law counties.
- Charter counties.
General law counties adhere to state law as to the number and duties of county elected officials. Charter counties have a limited degree of "home rule" authority that may provide for 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. A charter does not give county officials extra authority over local regulations, revenue-raising abilities, budgetary decisions, or intergovernmental relations.
A county may adopt, amend, or repeal a charter with majority vote approval. A new charter or the amendment or repeal of an existing charter may be proposed by the Board of Supervisors, a charter commission, or an initiative petition. The provisions of a charter are the law of the state and have the force and effect of legislative enactments. There are currently 45 general law counties and 13 charter counties.
The original 27 counties in Califoria were Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba.
List of counties
- Evaluation of ballot measure information on California county websites
- California county ballot initiatives
- California State Association of Counties