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Local Government Law

Finding Local Government Law Online

The current charters and codes for many of the local governments in the United States (including Los Angeles) can be found for free on the web. Although there is no one master website that contains all of these charters and codes, various publishers, such as Municipal Code Corporation (MCC), provide links to select local ordinances and codes for free.  Specifically, MCC provides links to ordinances for all fifty states in the U.S.  


Additional Electronic Sources for Local Government Laws

Other publishers that provide links to local charters and ordinances include American Legal Publishing, General Code Publishers, and Sterling Codifiers.  Although each online publisher uses its own search engine and interface, they do share some common features, which are listed below:

  • Browsing: They all typically allow you to browse each charter or code's table of contents on the left portion of the screen to identify and link to relevant sections.
  • Keyword Searching: They also all have a keyword search option that allows you to search the full text of each charter or code. If you decide to search by keyword, you should take a few moments to review the search tips for the website you are using. (These tips can often be found through the site's "Help" link.)
  • Appearance of Terms: Most of the publisher sites allow you to specify that all of your terms must appear in each document or that just one of them needs to appear.
  • Truncation: Most sites also allow you to truncate your words (usually with an *) to allow for different possible endings of a particular word (e.g., advertis* will look for advertise, advertising, as well as advertisement).

It is important to keep in mind that a document in a particular charter or code database may consist of an entire subdivision (article, chapter, etc.) of that charter or code as opposed to an individual section. Therefore, it may be difficult to perform a very precise search when searching these codes online. Some sites however do allow you to express proximity relationships between your terms, which can help to improve the precision of your searches.

If you are not able to locate a charter or code using one of the websites listed above, you can also check the website for the city or county in which you are interested and see if it contains a link to the charter or code. The State and Local Government on the Net website includes links to all city and county websites in the United States.

USC Digital Accessibility