Governed by a city council of five elected members, with each council seat in turn serving as mayor for a one-year term. A City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk are appointed and serve in support of the Council to enact the ordinances passed by the Council, which meets biweekly on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
The major City departments, ranked by expenditure:
- 32% – Police and Communication Services
- 23% – Fire and Emergency Services
- 6% – Development and Engineering
- 6% – Childcare programs
- 5% – City Attorney
- 5% – Public Works
- 5% – Parks, Beach & Recreation
- 5% – Finance and MIS
As of August 1, 2011, the South San Francisco Police Department took over the Pacifica emergency calls dispatch and the North County Fire Authority.