The city is governed by a mayor-council system. The current mayor is Antonio Villaraigosa. There are 15 city council districts. Other elected city officials include the City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and the City Controller Laura N. Chick. The city attorney prosecutes misdemeanours within the city limits. The district attorney, elected by county voters, prosecutes misdemeanors in unincorporated areas and in 78 of the 88 cities in the county, as well as felonies throughout the county.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles, but the city also maintains four specialised police agencies; The Office of Public Safety, within the General Services Department (which is responsible for security and law enforcement services at city facilities, including City Hall, city parks and libraries, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Convention Center), the Port Police, within the Harbor Department (which is responsible for land, air and sea law enforcement services at the Port of Los Angeles), the Los Angeles City Schools Police department which handles law enforcement for all city schools, and the Airport Police, within the Los Angeles World Airports Department (which is responsible for law enforcement services at all four city-owned airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD), and Van Nuys Airport (VNY), (the busiest general aviation airport in the country).
Voters created Neighborhood Councils in the Charter Reform of 1999. First proposed by City Council member Joel Wachs in 1996, they were designed to promote public participation in government and make it more responsive to local needs.
The councils cover districts which are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighbourhoods of Los Angeles.
Almost 90 neighbourhood councils (NCs) are certified and all "stakeholders" – meaning anyone who lives, works or owns property in a neighbourhood – may vote for members of the councils' governing bodies. Some council by-laws allow other people with a stake in the community to cast ballots as well.
The councils are official government bodies and so their governing bodies and committees must abide by California's Brown Act, which governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies.
The first notable concern of the Neighborhood Councils collectively was the opposition by some of them in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the city's Department of Water and Power. This led the City Council to approve only a limited increase pending independent review. More recently, some of the councils petitioned the City Council in summer 2006 to allow them to introduce ideas for legislative action, but the City Council put off a decision.
The neighbourhood councils have been allocated $50,000 each for administration, outreach and approved neighbourhood projects.