City Watch

By Gerrie Schipske

CityWatch Long Beach is a column on the inner workings of local government. We hope this will inform, inspire and engage readers. I welcome questions and suggestions for topics.

After spending eight years on City Council, four years on LBCC Board of Trustees, 11 years teaching public policy, law and political science at CSULB, and many years in political campaigns, I want to share how to keep our elected officials accountable.

So, let’s begin with the ABCs of local government.

What do city departments do?

City Attorney

  • The city attorney, as chief legal advisor to the city, renders advice to the City Council, city commissions and committees, and to the cIty officers and employees.
  • Number of Employees: 52
  • Annual Budget: $9.8 million

City Auditor

  • The city auditor leads an office dedicated to advancing an effective city government through independent, high-quality audits, advisory services and investigations. Work is focused on providing value to the city by identifying improvements that have the potential to make city operations more efficient and stronger for the public.
  • Number of Employees: 18
  • Annual Budget: $3.0 million

City Clerk

  • The city clerk provides meeting and administrative support to the Long Beach City Council, various committees and commissions.
  • Number of Employees: 15
  • Annual Budget: $4.2 million

City Manager*

  • As chief administrative officer of the city, the city manager is directly responsible for the efficient administration of all city government departments, with the exception of elective offices and the semi-autonomous commissions.
  • Number of Employees: 50
  • Annual Budget: $20.1 million

City Prosecutor

  • The city prosecutor prosecutes all criminal cases arising from misdemeanors or violations of city ordinances or state law.
  • Number of Employees: 38
  • Annual Budget: $6.7 million

Civil Service

  • The Civil Service Department assists in the employment process to recruit, test and place the best qualified and most capable people to perform city jobs.
  • Number of Employees: 18
  • Annual Budget: $3.7 million

Development Services*

  • The Department of Development Service is responsible for planning and overseeing the physical development and revitalization of the city.
  • Employees: 211
  • Annual Budget: $90.2 million

Disaster Preparedness &
Emergency Communications*

  • The Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Communications Department centralizes the direction and support of planning, coordination and management of disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, as well as protect lives and property through effective communications while maintaining the safety of first responders.
  • Employees: 88
  • Annual Budget: $13.9 million

Economic Development*

  • The City Economic Development Department is comprised of real estate and finance experts to guide businesses through the wide variety of services available.
  • Employees: 93
  • Annual Budget: $23.1 million

Energy Resources*

  • The Energy Resources Department is a municipal utility owned and operated by the City of Long Beach. The Oil Properties Bureau is responsible for subsidence control measures through the daily injection of more than 45 million gallons of water into areas from which oil is extracted in order to properly maintain surface elevations.
  • Employees: 247
  • Annual Budget: $267.5 million

Financial Management*

  • The Department of Financial Management administers the financial affairs of the city and serves as primary financial adviser to the city manager.
  • Employees: 257
  • Annual Budget: $81.6 million

Fire Department*

  • More than fighting fires, the Long Beach Fire Department provides a variety of services including paramedics and ambulance services.
  • Employees: 536
  • Annual Budget: $153.7 million

Harbor Department

  • The Harbor Department is directed by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners and is responsible for managing, promoting and developing the Port of Long Beach.
  • Employees: 495
  • Annual Budget: $182.4 million

Health and Human Services Department*

  • The Health Department is charged with improving the quality of life of the citizens of Long Beach by addressing the public health and human services needs ensuring that the conditions affecting the public’s health afford a healthy environment in which to live, work and play.
  • Employees: 495
  • Annual Budget: $182.4 million (of which the city received $162.5 million from federal and state grants.

Human Resources*

  • Through the development and implementation of citywide personnel policies and procedures, the Human Resources Department assists other city departments in acquiring, developing and retaining high-quality employees.
  • Employees: 70
  • Annual Budget: $28.2 million

Library Services*

  • The Long Beach Public Library provides a strong public library system throughout the city.
  • Employees: 137
  • Annual Budget: $19.1 million

Long Beach Airport (LGB)*

  • Long Beach Airport serves nearly three million commercial airline passengers annually, offering direct flights throughout the United States with easy domestic and international connections.
  • Employees: 128
  • Annual Budget: $53.6 million

Mayor and City Council

  • There are nine elected council members elected by the constituents of their district, a citywide elected mayor and their staff.
  • Employees: 50
  • Annual Budget: $6.2 million

Parks, Recreation & Marine*

  • From community parks to aquatic facilities, animal care and contract classes, the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department provides a multitude of services.
  • Employees:448
  • Annual Budget: $74.0 million

 Police Department*

  • Along with protecting the general community of Long Beach, the Police Department has a wide variety of crime prevention and family assistance programs.
  • Employees: 1214
  • Annual Budget: $293.0 million

Public Works*

  • The Department of Public Works is organized into six bureaus focusing on delivery of services to the community.
  • Employees: 588
  • Annual Budget: $308.9 million

Technology & Innovation*

  • Technology & Innovation provides a wide variety of internal support services for other city departments.
  • Employees: 191
  • Annual Budget: $70.0 million

Water Department

  • The Water Department is directed by the Board of Water Commissioners to develop and deliver a dependable and plentiful supply of water.
  • Employees: 266
  • Annual Budget: $179.6 million

* This is a department under the management and control of the city manager.

Fun Facts

Do you want to find out more about how cities operate? Check out:

Next column: How to use the law to make city government accountable!


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