City of San Bernardino’s 1908 Charter Amendments

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

By 1908, the electorate of the City of San Bernardino decided to make changes to the 1905 Charter.   None of these changes survive in the Charter today, but it is interesting to see the evolution of what has been referred to as the “constitution” of the City of San Bernardino. These changes over the years have shaped both the City of San Bernardino as an entity, and the city, as a geographical unit.  I have drafted a legislative version (with additions and strikeouts of the 1905 Charter with the amendments to the Charter added by the 1908 election and approved by the California Legislature.

Here are the changes:

The election replaced the 1905 Sec. 182 with a new Section 182 (though it made only a few changes).  The selection process for choosing the Chief of Police was changed.  The duties of the chief were changed, making him the ex-officio tax collector, and a full member of the board of health.  The mayor and common council were given the power to give the Chief of Police no more than one percent of the tax collected, in addition to the $1,500 annual salary given in section 24 of the Charter.

Sec. 182. On or before after twelve o’clock noon of the third second Monday of Aprilin May, 1907next succeeding his election, the mayor shall appoint, a chief of police, subject to the confirmation of the common council, some competent person who shall be known as the chief of police of the City of San Bernardino. The chief of police, for the suppression of any riot, public tumult, disturbance of the public peace, or any organized resistance against the laws of public authorities in the lawful execution of their functions, shall have the powers that are now, or may hereafter be conferred upon sheriffs by the laws of this state, and shall in all respects be entitled to the same protection; and his lawful orders shall be promptly executed by deputies, police officers and watchmen in the city, and every citizen shall also render aid when required for the arrest of offenders and maintenance of public order. He shall execute and return all process issued and directed to him by any legal authority; and shall enforce all ordinances of the city, and arrest all persons guilty of a violation of the same. He shall prosecute before the competent tribunal all breaches, or violations of city ordinances.

He shall also have charge of the city prison and prisoners confined therein, and all those who are sentenced to labor upon the streets, or public works of the city, and shall see that all orders and sentences in reference thereto are fully executed and complied with, and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the mayor and common council.

The chief of police shall be ex-officio a member of the board of healthtax collector, and ex-officio license tax collector, and a member of the board of health.  He shall collect all taxes and license taxes as prescribed by law and the ordinances of the city.  As tax collector and license collector the mayor and common council shall have power to fix extra compensation for the chief of police not to exceed one per cent of the amount actually collected, which shall be in addition to his salary otherwise fixed in this charter.

The 1908 election added a new section 195, subdivision thirteen to read,

Thirteenth—In their discretion to admit nonresident children to any of the departments of the public schoolsof the city, upon the payment, at such time terms and conditions as the board may direct, of tuition fees to be fixed by the board; provided that the tuition fee required and collected shall in no case be less than the cost per capita of maintaining the school to which the pupil is admitteddeem just;

Basically, this change allowed the Board of Education to decide the terms and conditions to admit children outside the district.  It is not clear when this section was deleted from the charter, but probably either at the 1961 election or the 1973 election.

The election added Section 238a, which established a minimum wage of $2 a day for public works, and requiring that workers on San Bernardino Public Works projects be “native born or naturalized citizens”:

Section 238a. The time of service of any laborer, workman, or mechanic employed in or upon any of the public works of the city of San Bernardino, or in or upon any work done by or for said city is hereby limited and restricted to eight hours during any one calendar day and no person shall be employed in or upon any such works except he be a native born or naturalized citizen of the United States, and the minimum wages of laborers employed in the execution of any such works shall be $2.00 per day; and there shall be inserted in every contract entered into for any such work a stipulation that no person shall be employed in the execution of such contract who is not a native born or naturalized citizen of the United States, and that in the performance of such work eight hours shall be the maximum number of hours that any laborer, workman or mechanic shall be required or permitted to work on any calendar day, and that $2.00 per day shall be the minimum wages paid to any person employed by the contractor in the execution of his contract: provided, that this section shall not apply to cases of extraordinary emergency, caused by fire, flood or danger to life or property, or to work upon any public, military or naval defenses or works in time of war.

The only trace of section 238a today is a note in the current (2004) City Charter which states in an annotation that “Section 238, Subsection (a) repealed by election held February 6, 1973).  It probably was amended some time between 1908 and its repeal in 1973.”  To give some context, according to the State of California’s Department of Industrial Relations, California’s first minimum wage was .16 an hour in 1916, so assuming an eight hour day, the minimum set by the Charter was high for the times.  I do not know the history or the impetus for the citizenship requirement.

California Senate Concurring Resolution No. 3 [1909]  had this preamble which discussed the election and a little of the legislative history of the 1908 amendments:

Whereas, the mayor and common council of the city of San Bernardino did by ordinance number 399, adopted by said mayor and common council on the 19th day of October, 1908, and approved by the mayor of said city on the 19th day of October, 1908, and pursuant to section eight of article eleven of the constitution of the State of California, duly propose to the qualified electors of said city certain amendments to the charter of said city to be submitted to said qualified electors at a special municipal election to be held for that purpose, in said city, on the 28th day of December 1908: and,

Whereas, said proposed amendments were, and each of them was, published for twenty days, in a daily newspaper printed and published in said city and of general circulation therein, to wit. The Evening Index said publication ending on the 16th day of October, 1908; and,

Whereas, the mayor and common council of said city did, by an ordinance known as Ordinance No. 401, which was duly adopted on the 23rd day of November, 1908, call and order the holding of a special election in said city of San Bernardino, on the 28th day of December, 1908. (at least forty days after the publication of said proposed amendments for twenty days, in said daily newspaper of general circulation in said city of San Bernardino, to wit: The Evening Index) and did provide in said ordinance for the submission of said proposed amendments to the said charter at said special election, which said ordinance was approved by the mayor of said city on the 23rd day of November, 1908, and was published, for at least ten days prior to the time appointed for the holding of said election, in “The Evening Index.” a daily newspaper printed and published in said city; and,

Whereas, at said election a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon voted in favor of the ratification of and did ratify three of said proposed amendments to said charter: and,

Whereas, the common council of said city of San Bernardino, pursuant to said charter did, at a special meeting thereof, held at 7.30 o’clock P. M. on the second day after said election, duly canvass the returns of said election and duly found, determined, and declared that a majority of such qualified electors voting thereon, had voted for and ratified three of said proposed amendments to said charter: and,

Whereas, said three amendments to said charter, so ratified by a majority of the qualified electors of said city voting at said election are in words and figures as follows, to wit:

The next amendment o the Charter was passed in 1913.

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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