In November 1997, the citizens of the City approved a Charter which became effective on December 25, 1997, thus changing Rancho Mirage to a Charter City. As a Charter City, Rancho Mirage is able to assert more control over municipal affairs. Charter provisions covering municipal affairs prevail over the state laws when the two conflict.
Rancho Mirage has a “Council-Manager” form of government. The City Council determines policy on issues facing the community and gives direction to City staff. The City Manager implements policies and programs of the Council, and oversees all activities of the staff.
A five-member Council governs the City. Council members are elected to four-year terms. The five elected officials are from five separate areas of the City, but voting is Citywide with elections occurring every two years. They are the legislative and policy-forming branch of the City.
The City Council chooses one of its members to serve a one-year term as Mayor, which is a largely ceremonial position. The Mayor presides over Council meetings and signs all contracts, agreements, ordinances, and resolutions, but has no veto power over any legislation.
The City Council has the power to create commissions and boards to provide advice in specific areas of decision making. The City Council may select individual Council members to serve as liaisons to each of the City’s commissions and boards. In addition, the City Council may choose to hold joint meetings with commissions and boards. There are two kinds of commissions and boards that have been created:
- Those that are purely advisory in nature, and
- those that have been delegated specific powers and decision making authority.
Most of the City’s advisory bodies are purely advisory in nature; this includes the Community Parks and Trails Commission, the Community Cultural Commission, the Community Emergency Preparedness Commission, the Architectural Review Board (advises the Planning Commission), the Housing Commission, the Library Advisory Commission and the Speaker Series Commission. Advisory bodies that have been delegated specific powers and authority are the Planning Commission and the Mobile Home Fair Practices Commission.
The City Council meets at 1:00 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month in the Council Chamber in City Hall located at 69-825 Highway, 111, Rancho Mirage, CA. All regular and special meetings are open to the public, and City Council meetings are taped and shown on local cable television on channel 17 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday following each meeting. The City Council also acts as the Board of Directors for the Housing Authority, Library, Redevelopment Successor Agency and Joint Powers Financing Authority.