The Constitution of the State of California established two types of cities: Charter and General Law. At first glance they appear similar as they pertain to day-to-day- operations. A Charter City, however, has considerably more authority than a General Law City to tax, to regulate and to adopt its own procedures and organization. A General Law City, on the other hand, may exercise only those powers expressly given to it under State law. All cities begin as General Law cities, and the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea has chosen to remain such.
State law permits two basic forms of government in General Law Cities: the Equal Council System and Council - Manager/City Administrator System. Carmel-by-the-Sea's governmental system is Council/City Administrator. The Mayor and City Council, as the governing body, are elected by the people. The City Council appoints the City Administrator. It also appoints the City's Attorney, Treasurer, and Engineer. The City Administrator appoints all other City employees.