Duties of the City Clerk Under California Law In a General Law California City

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

In a general law California city, the City Clerk’s duties are created by state law and by city or town ordinances and resolutions.  State law establishes the duties of  a general law City Clerk in Government Code section 40801, et seq.

The Duties of the California general law City Clerk are:

1. Clerical: Keep accurate record of the legislative body and board of equalization in books bearing appropriate titles and devoted exclusively to such purposes  with a comprehensive general index. The City Clerk shall keep an ordinance book and record all certified city ordinances.   The record with the certificate is prima facie evidence of the ordinance’s passage, publication and contents.  The official records should not be filed in any court proceeding.  The City Clerk is the custodian of the city seal.  The City Clerk can administer City oaths, take and certify City affidavits and depositions, and appoint deputies.  (Government Code sections 40801, 40806, 40807, 40813, 40814);

2. Financial: The City Clerk is the City’s accounting officer and shall retain records reflecting the City’s financial condition.  The City Clerk shall cause to be published a summary of the City’s financial report (required by Government Code section 53891 in the form prescribed by the the State Controller) once in a newspaper of general circulation, or if no newspaper, according to code, and posted no later than 120 days after the fiscal year’s close, and the clerk’s financial and accounting duties can be transferred to the finance director.  The City clerk is the ex officio assessor for the assessment and collection of city taxes unless delegated to the county.  (Government Code sections 40802, 40804, 40805, 40805.5, 40810); and

3. Other:  The City Clerk shall perform “such additional duties as are prescribed by ordinance.” ( Government Code section 40812).


The City Clerk also has duties created by the Election Code regarding elections and other duties in the Government Code, such as notifying the county board of supervisors regarding the change of a place name or number (Government Code section 34092).  The Government Claims Act allows a government claim to be filed with a city clerk.  Government Code section 915(a)(1).  The City Clerk is also receives Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act, as well as other duties under the Act.  Government Code section 87500(f).
Other duties can be prescribed by ordinance.  The City of Rancho Cucamonga, for example, requires certain documents on appeals to be filed with the City Clerk.  As I have mentioned before, often California Public Records Act requests are routed through or answered by the City Clerk.  The City Clerk in Redlands sold Fourth of July tickets at the University of Redlands on behalf of  the Redlands 4th of July Committee, Inc.  Many City Clerks process passports for the State Department.


A charter law City’s City Clerk’s duties will be created by the City’s Charter.  For example, the City of San Bernardino’s City Charter, Section 60 is very similar to the Government Code’s prescribed duties.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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