In 1912 the California legislature bowed to “home rule” advocates and passed legislation to allow county governments to organize and perform true governmental functions. Previously the local governments merely carried out state directives. Los Angeles County became the first county in California to go through the charter process which began with an election of a “Board of Freeholders” responsible for drafting the charter presented here. Remarkable for its brevity, it streamlined the county government, established a Civil Service Commission, reduced the number of elected positions, consolidated the sheriff’s office and constables, “which have always been at war with each other,” under the sheriff, and established forward-looking working conditions that included an 8 hour work day and two weeks paid vacation. The proposed charter was adopted by the electorate and went into effect the next year.
Forty-six years later, when Frank R. Seaver, one of the original drafters, was asked to sit on a panel to update the charter, he reminisced that: “I guess it was a pretty good charter too, even though it wasn't one-tenth as thick as the city charter. Anyway, it's still in use and has been amended very little. In 1958 the County Board of Supervisors set up a Citizens Charter Study Committee to consider the possible need for revisions in that 1912 charter of ours. They put me on the committee. We met every week for about eight months, and we finally decided not to change it. Decided we couldn't do much better. As a matter of fact, I understand that old charter of ours has been used some as a model around the country." Click here to read more about Seaver. 20 pages. Self-wrappers.