The City of Palm Desert was incorporated on November 26, 1973, as a general law city, governed under California's State regulations. In 1997, voters approved changing Palm Desert's designation from general law to a charter city in order to preserve the historic principles of self-governance and derive the resulting social, economic, and fiscal benefits from local control.
Those charged with governing according to the charter are the five members of Palm Desert's City Council. The Mayor is appointed from within the City Council for a one-year term. All City Council members are elected at large for four-year terms, staggered every two years. General Municipal Elections are conducted in November of even-numbered years, consolidated with the Statewide General Election.
The City Council enacts City ordinances, establishes policies, represents the public, maintains intergovernmental relations, and exercises general oversight over the affairs of City government, the Redevelopment Agency, Financing Authority, Housing Authority, and Parking Authority.
New Fair Political Practices Commission Regulation 18705.5 requires the City to post, on the City's website, the stipends Councilmembers receive from outside agencies in conjunction with official appointments made by the whole City Council. (See the downloadable Form 806 available on this page.)