The Council is the governing body of the City, except as otherwise provided in the Charter, and enacts ordinances subject to the approval or veto of the Mayor. It orders elections, levies taxes, authorizes public improvements, approves contracts, and adopts traffic regulations. The Council adopts or modifies the budget proposed by the Mayor and provides the necessary funds, equipment, and supplies for the budgetary departments. The Council confirms or rejects appointments proposed by the Mayor and prescribes duties of boards and officers not defined by Charter.
The first City Council, of seven members, held its initial meeting on July 3, 1850. With the rapid growth of the City have come many problems affecting lives and welfare of its residents, such as traffic control, sewage and garbage disposal, recycling, environmental quality, fire and police protection, flood control, public utility regulation, and many other functions. Responsibility for the proper solution of these problems rests with the City Council, which now consists of fifteen members elected by districts. The Council meets at ten o'clock in the morning in the John Ferraro Council Chamber of the City Hall three days each week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, except for the first Friday of every month in which Council meetings are held at the Van Nuys City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.
Council Members shoulder a responsibility far heavier than most citizens suspect. The average citizen's first thought when a problem arises is to write, telephone, or visit the Council Member. The Council Member knows the district and its constituents with more intimate understanding than a more distantly elected representative, and a citizen can know the Council Member by visiting City Hall, and by attending public meetings.
The Council is provided technical assistance by the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office. Personnel from this office are assigned to work with the various Council Committees and the Council as a whole to gather information which the Council may require for the passage of City legislation.
As required by the City Charter and established by Resolution, the Council is organized into committees to facilitate adequate consideration of matters subject to its attention. All members are appointed by the President of the City Council. Each Council Member is the Chair of one committee and a member of two others. Special ad hoc committees may be established and function in accordance with the authority creating them.
Committees meet at a set time, or upon call of the Chair. Through reports and hearings, Committees obtain information on matters under consideration and make recommendations to the Council in the form of signed written reports which are summarized on an Agenda by the City Clerk for the information of individual Council Members, City departments, and the public.