Updating the City Charter

The City of Santa Ana is updating the City Charter

Share Your Suggestions and Take Our Survey

The Santa Ana City Council is considering updates to the City Charter, which was first adopted in 1952. To help guide the City Council's discussion on this matter, we'd like your feedback.

Share Your Suggestions
Share Your Suggestions

Do you have any suggestions on where we can make changes to the Charter? Let us know by filling out this form.

Share Your Suggestions

Survey: Rank the Charter Amendments
Survey: Rank the Charter Amendments

The Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee has put together 22 proposed Charter amendments. Take this survey to help us rank them.

Take the Survey



What is a Charter?

In the United States, a charter city is a city whose governing system is defined by the city’s own charter document, as opposed to by a state’s general law. But what is a charter, exactly? The charter itself is a vital document that establishes a degree of autonomy to local governments and outlines certain authority and restrictions that a city has over its municipal affairs.

What are municipal affairs? Although it isn’t clearly defined, the California Constitution provides four broad categories: (1) regulation of the “city police force”; (2) “subgovernment in all or part of a city”; (3) “conduct of city elections”; and (4) “the manner in which … municipal officers [are] elected.” To help explain that, here are some examples of what municipal affairs looks like:

  • Municipal election matters
  • Procedures for adopting ordinances
  • Compensation of city officers and employees
  • Processes associated with city contracts
  • Financing public improvements
  • Making charitable gifts of public funds for public purposes
  • Term limits for councilmembers
  • Land use and zoning decisions

By no means is this an exhaustive list.

About the City of Santa Ana’s Charter

The City of Santa Ana is governed through a charter which is authorized by the California Constitution. The Charter addresses important aspects of Santa Ana’s authority. The original charter was adopted by the voters in 1952. Modifications to the original document have been approved by the voters on several occasions, with the last major amendment occurring as part of the November 8, 2018 General Municipal Election. While most charter amendments were prepared and executed individually, the City has used an advisory committee to review the Charter only once.

January 21, 2020 City Council Meeting: Launching the Ad Hoc Committee

On January 21, 2020, the City Council received an informational report that included an overview of the Charter, along with options to create a resident-led Charter Review Committee. While some of the councilmembers were supportive of establishing a resident-led Charter Review Committee, the mayor ultimately motioned to establish an Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee instead—with Councilmembers Bacerra, Penaloza, and Solorio. 

June 2, 2020 City Council Meeting: Informational Report and Update to the City Council

At the June 2,2020 City Council meeting, staff delivered a brief presentation to the City Council that outlines 17 proposed Charter amendments, along with five topic areas to consider additional Charter amendments. 

  June 2, 2020 Staff Report

  Proposed Draft Charter Amendments

  Proposed Timeline

  PowerPoint Presentation 

The City Council directed staff to return to the City Council at the June 16 meeting for a follow-up discussion.

June 16, 2020 City Council Meeting: Follow-Up Informational Report to the City Council

At this meeting, City staff re-presented the presentation from the June 2, 2020 City Council meeting. The City Council directed staff to conduct additional community engagement regarding the Charter update process, solicit feedback through an online survey, and work with existing community infrastructure (such as local schools, neighborhood associations, and others) to seek input from the public. 

Next Steps

The next informational report and update to the City Council is scheduled for July 7, 2020. Visit our website to learn how to participate in the meeting.

Do You Have Ideas?

Updating any city charter takes a lot of work--and we need your help! If you have suggestions on where we can make changes to the Charter, let us know by filling out this form.

  Share Your Suggestions

  Take Our Survey