City of San Bernardino’s 1905 Charter

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

This week, I’m focusing on the City of San Bernardino.  I am starting with the City of San Bernardino’s original 1905 Charter.  The 1905 Charter is the beginning of the modern structure of the City of San Bernardino.  It created the Mayor and Common Council.  You can still see much of the same verbiage that is found in today’s Charter (passed in full by the voters on November 2, 2004, almost one hundred years later).

Linked here is the City of San Bernardino’s original charter from 1905.   The current version omits the preamble and the freeholder’s certificate.  The current version of the document was drafted while I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino.  I did not have a hand drafting the current Charter as part of my duties as Deputy City Attorney.  However, there may have been a discussion about keeping the freeholder’s certificate, as it certainly was considered a part of the Charter before then.

Here is the preamble from the 1905 Charter, giving the background for adopting the Charter:

Whereas, The City of San Bernardino, a municipal corporation of the County of San Bernardino, State of California, now is and was at all time herein referred to, a city containing a population of more than three thousand five hundred inhabitants and less than ten thousand inhabitants; and

Whereas, At a special municipal election, duly held in said city on the 30th day of July, 1904, under and in accordance with the law and provision of Section eight of Article eleven of the Constitution of said State of California, a board of fifteen freeholders, duly qualified, was elected in and by said city, by the qualified electors thereof, to prepare and propose a charter for the government of said city; and

Whereas, Said board of freeholders did, within ninety days after said election, prepare and propose a charter for the government of the said City of San Bernardino; and

Whereas, The said charter was on the 27th day of October, in the year 1904, signed in duplicate by the members of said board of freeholders and was thereupon duly returned and Charter of filed with the president of the board of trustees of said City of San Bernardino, and the other copy thereof was filed with and in the office of the county recorder of the County of San Bernardino; and

Whereas, Such proposed charter was thereafter published in the San Bernardino Daily Times-Index and in the San Bernardino Daily Sun, each being daily newspapers of general circulation in said City of San Bernardino. The said charter being published for a period of twenty days and more, the first publication thereof was made within twenty days after the completion of said charter; and

Whereas, Said proposed charter was, within not less than thirty days after the completion of said publication, submitted by the board of trustees of the City of San Bernardino to the qualified voters of the City of San Bernardino at the special election previously duly called and therein held on the 6th day of January, 1905; and

Whereas, At said last mentioned special election, a majority of said qualified electors of said city voting at such special election, voted in favor of the ratification of such charter as proposed as a whole; and

Whereas, Said board of trustees after canvassing said returns, duly found and declared that the majority of said qualified electors, voting at special election, had voted for ratifying said charter; and

Whereas, The same is now submitted to the legislature of the State of California for its approval and ratification as a whole without power of alteration or amendment, in accordance with Section eight of Article 11 of the Constitution of the State of California; and

Whereas. Said charter so ratified is in words and figures following, to wit:

The Charter gave the City of San Bernardino a limited version of home rule.  Instead of the Board of Trustees of a City of the Fifth Class, it now had a Mayor and Common Council.

There are some key differences between the Charter today and the 1905 Charter.  The 1905 charter created a judicial department (a police court), that no long exists.  The 1905 Charter governed and created a Board of Education which is now the governing body of the San Bernardino Unified School District.  The original charter created the now-defunct City Assessor, and the City Engineer and Superintendent of Streets.  The latter two positions are no longer mentioned in today’s Charter.  The City no longer has a Health Board, those functions are performed by the County.  However, the basic structure of the 1905 Charter is shared with the current Charter.  Section 55, though amended, still governs the elected City Attorney.

Here is the freeholder certificate attached to the original Charter, which was omitted from the 2004 Charter:

We, the undersigned, members of the board of fifteen freeholders of the City of San Bernardino, in the State of California, elected at a special election held in said city on the 30th day of July, 1904, to prepare and propose a charter for such city, under and in accordance with Sections 8 and 8 1/2 of Article XI of the constitution of this state, have prepared and we do hereby propose the foregoing as and for a charter for said city.

In witness whereof we hereunto sign our names in duplicate at said City of San Bernardino, this 27th day of October, A. D. 1904.

A. G. KENDALL, President;

JOHN ANDRESON,

H. M. BARTON,

M. L. COOK,

GEORGE M. COOLEY,

J. J. HANFORD,

W. S. HOOPER,

L. D. HOUGHTON,

JOS. INGERSOLL,

JAMES MURRAY,

W. M. PARKER,

H. C. ROLFE,

J. W. CATICK, Secretary.

State Of California, County Of San Bernardino,       }

City Of San Bernardino.                }ss.

I, C. F. Riley, President of the board of trustees of the City of San Bernardino, State of California, do hereby certify that the board of freeholders whose names appear signed to the foregoing proposed charter, together with F. B. Daily and I. R. Brun, who were absent at the time the said charter was signed, and whose names do not appear signed thereto, were, on the 30th day of July, 1904, at a special municipal election held in said City of San Bernardino, on said day, duly elected by the qualified voters of said city, to prepare and propose a charter for said city; that each of said freeholders had been a qualified elector and freeholder for more than five years previous to said election; that the foregoing is a true copy of said charter prepared and returned to me as president of said board of trustees within ninety days after said election, as required by Section eight of Article eleven of the constitution of this state; that such proposed charter was then published in the Daily Times-Index and in the Daily Sun of San Bernardino, for more than twenty days, and that the first publication of said proposed charter was made within twenty days after the completion of said charter; that within not less than thirty days after the publication of said charter as required by said Section eight to-wit: On the sixth day of January, 1905, said charter was submitted at a special election duly held therein for the purpose of ratifying or rejecting said proposed charter.

That said proposed charter as a whole was duly ratified at said election by the majority of the votes of the qualified electors of said city, and that the returns of said election were duly canvassed by the board of trustees of said City of San Bernardino on the ninth day of January, 1905, and the result thereof declared as above set forth and that in all matters and things pertaining to said proposed charter the provisions of said section of the constitution and of the laws of the State of California, pertaining to the adoption of the charter, have been fully complied with in every particular.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the corporate seal of said city this 10th day of January, 1905.

C. F. RILEY, President of the Board of Trustees of the City of San Bernardino.

Attest:                                                                         HARRY ALLISON,

[seal]                                                              City Clerk.

Students of San Bernardino History may recognize some of the names.

Albert G. Kendall was a County Supervisor from 1918 to 1926 and namesake of Kendall Drive in San Bernardino, and according to the 1900 Census, County Assessor.  John Andreson is the namesake of the Andreson Building, and was later County Supervisor in the 5th District of San Bernardino from 1926 to 1940.  At the time of the signing, he was with Farmer’s Exchange Bank.  George M. Cooley owned Cooley Hardware.  The other names are a little more obscure.  Per the 1900 Census,  Hiram M. Barton was a fruit dealer. Marian L. Cook  was a civil engineer, John Hanford was a handyman, William S.. Hooper was a banker, Lagona D. Houghton owned a cigar store, Joseph Ingersol was a liquor merchant. James Murray was a saloon keeper, Wilbur M. Parker was a machinist.  Horace C. Rolfe was a lawyer, Joseph W. Catick was an undertaker, I.M. Brun owned a liquor store (not from the Census), and  Frank B. Daily was an attorney.  Charles F. Riley, the President of the Board of Trustees of the City of San Bernardino at the Charter’s adoption, was a proprietor of a soda works in 1900.  Harry Allison, the City Clerk in 1905, was a telegraph operator in 1900.  Joseph Catick was later mayor, elected to two non-consecutive two year terms.

The 1905 Charter sat unamended until amendments passed in 1908.

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.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave.,  Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055
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About Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
Michael Reiter is a Redlands, California-based lawyer, serving San Bernardino County and Riverside County in Southern California's Inland Empire. Michael Reiter is a lawyer practicing in the following fields of law: Municipal Law, Code Enforcement Law, Small Business Law and Real Estate Law. Michael Reiter practices in all the local courts, including San Bernardino Superior Court, Riverside Superior Court, and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Michael Reiter was admitted to the California State Bar in 1998. Michael Reiter was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and Staff Attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino. Michael Reiter serves all of San Bernardino and Riverside County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. Michael Reiter can be reached at (909) 296-6708, or by electronic mail at michael@michaelreiterlaw.com. 300 E. State St. #517 Redlands CA 92373-5235

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