The City of Carlsbad is a municipal corporation following the council-manager form of government. The City Council, the city’s legislative body, defines the policy direction of the city. The city manager oversees the day to day operations of the city. In 2008, Carlsbad became a charter city, which provides the city with greater authority over local issues.
The City Council consists of an elected mayor and four elected council members. Each serves a four-year term. The city is in the process of transitioning to a system where City Council members are elected by district instead of at large or citywide.