Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cities, towns and counties

The state's local government is divided into 58 counties and 481 incorporated cities and towns; of which 459 are cities and 22 are towns. Under California law, the terms "city" and "town" are explicitly interchangeable; the name of an incorporated municipality in the state can either be "City of (Name)" or "Town of (Name)".
Sacramento became California's first incorporated city on February 27, 1850. San Jose, San Diego and Benicia tied for California's second incorporated city, each receiving incorporation on March 27, 1850. Eastvale became the state's most recent and 481st incorporated municipality on October 1, 2010.
The majority of these cities and towns are within one of five metropolitan areas. Sixty-eight percent of California's population lives in its three largest metropolitan areas, Greater Los Angeles Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Riverside-San Bernardino Area. Although smaller, the other two large population centers are the San Diego and Greater Sacramento metro areas.
The state recognizes two kinds of cities: charter and general law. General law cities owe their existence to state law and are consequentially governed by it; charter cities are governed by their own city charters. Cities incorporated in the 19th century tend to be charter cities. All ten of the state's most populous cities are charter cities.

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