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THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS OF CALIFORNIA
16. Importance of State and Local Government. — The Constitution of the United States recognizes only two political units in our scheme of government: the nation and the state. The affairs of the nation are placed in the charge of the national government. These are important matters, although, for the most part, they influence the life of individual men and women only indirectly. The affairs of each state are of greater importance to the individual, because they directly influence his life at all times, whether he is conscious of the fact or not. They are in the charge of the state government, which is the constant guardian of our most vital public and private interests.
The state government has its headquarters at the state capital, but it must have agents in all parts of the state in order that the state law may be enforced in every locality. Because we believe in the principle of local selfgovernment these agents are not appointed at the state capital, but are elected, or appointed, in the various localities. In order that they may be chosen without confusion, and that their powers and duties may be definitely established, the territory of the state is divided into numerous subdivisions, such as counties, townships, school districts, and cities. No one of these subdivisions should be regarded as a complete political unit. They are all parts of the state, as branches, twigs, and leaves are parts of a tree. They are created by the state and have only such powers,
THE SUBDIVISIONS OF CALIFORNIA CLASSIFIED
duties, and privileges as the state confers upon them; and no one of them can be adequately understood unless it is considered in its relation to the state.
17. The Subdivisions of California Classified. — The subdivisions of California may be separated into two classes : Class I, those which collect no taxes and own no property; Class II, those which collect taxes and own property.
Class I. The following are the subdivisions which collect no taxes and own no property :
1. Congressional Districts. The state is divided into
eleven. 2. Assembly Districts. The state is divided into eighty. 3. Senatorial Districts. The state is divided into forty. 4. Equalization Districts. The state is divided into four. 5. Appellate Court Districts. The state is divided into
three. 6. Supervisorial Districts. Each county is divided into five. 7. Judicial Townships. Each county is divided into a
convenient number. 8. Road Districts. Each county is divided into a conven
ient number. 9. Horticultural Districts. Each county is divided into a
There are many other such districts, but this list includes the most important of them. Those from 1 to 7 inclusive are election districts, created for the purpose of electing representatives in Congress, assemblymen, state senators, members of the state board of equalization, and other officers. The expense of conducting elections in these districts is paid from county treasuries; and the salaries of the officers
elected are paid, in the case of representatives in Congress, from the national treasury, and in the remaining cases, from the state and the various county treasuries. These districts, therefore, have no expenses to meet; and they are not given the power either to levy and collect taxes, or to acquire property.
Counties are divided into road districts for the purpose of caring for the roads, and into horticultural districts for the purpose of inspecting orchards, vineyards, and nursery stock. But the care of roads and the protection of the fruit industry against diseases and pests are county charges. These districts also, therefore, have no need of money, and do not possess the power to tax or to hold property.
Class II. The most important of the subdivisions which collect taxes and own property are as follows:
A. Municipal Corporations : 1. Incorporated cities and towns.
B. Quasi Corporations : 2. Counties. 3. School Districts. 4. Irrigation Districts. 5. Sanitary Districts; organized to establish sewer systems. 6. Drainage Districts; organized to drain swamp lands. 7. Levee Districts; organized to build levees. 8. Fire Districts; organized to provide protection against
fire. 9. Lighting Districts; organized to install electric lighting
systems. 10. Permanent Road Divisions; organized to build roads
and bridges. 11. Library Districts; organized to establish libraries.
ROAD DISTRICTS AND PERMANENT ROAD DIVISIONS
The districts from 4 to ir inclusive are organized only outside of incorporated cities and towns, because a city or town has power to provide its people with the accommodations furnished by such districts.
Not one of the subdivisions belonging to Class II could do the work for which it exists without money and property, and hence they must all have the power to tax as well as the power to acquire and hold property.
18. Road Districts and Permanent Road Divisions. The difference between the subdivisions of Class I and those of Class II is illustrated by the difference between road districts and permanent road divisions. As road districts have no power to tax, the money spent on the roads in each district is derived from the general county road tax levied by the supervisors. If any portion of a county wishes the privilege of taxing itself in order to have more money to spend on its roads than comes to it from the general road tax, it may gain the privilege by organizing a permanent road division. A majority of the landowners living in the territory in question present a petition to the supervisors asking that the said territory be formed into a permanent road division. The law provides that the supervisors must grant the request, which they do by issuing a proclamation declaring the road division to be formed. After this the people may raise money at any time to spend on their roads by voting bonds or special taxes. The supervisors must call an election for either purpose upon the request of ten landowners in the district. Thus by organizing themselves into a permanent road division the people gain the power to speak and act as a unit in the matter of road building, and of taxing all taxable property in the district for that purpose.
CIVIL GOV. IN CAL. 4
19. Corporations. All the subdivisions of Class II are known as public corporations. An accurate understanding of the character and powers of public corporations is necessary to every student of civil government, and can be acquired more readily after we have noted the characteristics of corporations in general.
The Civil Code of California ($ 283) defines a corporation thus: “A corporation is a creature of the law, having certain powers and duties of a natural person. Being created by the law, it may continue for any length of time which the law prescribes.” Notice three points in this definition :
1. “A corporation is a creature of the law.” A group of people cannot form themselves into a corporation. Men may combine their capital and associate together in business, but they are not a corporation and cannot exercise the powers or enjoy the privileges of a corporation, until they "incorporate "; that is, until they receive the sanction of the state. In order to obtain this sanction in California they must take the following steps: (a) Form a temporary organization, and draw up articles of incorporation,” which must state the name and purpose of the proposed corporation, the place of business, the amount of capital stock, if any, the number of directors by whom the corporation is to be governed, and other details specified in the law; (b) file the articles of incorporation in the office of the county clerk in the county in which the principal place of business is to be; (c) file with the secretary of state in Sacramento a copy of the articles of incorporation, paying to him at the same time the fee required by law, — after this the secretary of state issues a certificate of incorporation to the persons whose names are signed to the articles; (d) a set of by-laws for the government of the corporation must be adopted, and permanent officers must be elected.
This completes the process.
2. A corporation has “ certain powers and duties of a natural person.” It may be composed of any number of people, but it
i There must be at least three in California.