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Structures and functions of

urban government

City Management
Dr. Adnan Alshiha
Why do city politics matter?
What is the role of urban government and how
does it related to the other spheres of
government in Saudi Arabia?

Whose interests should local government serve?

Whom does local government really serve?

What is the most efficient and effective structure

of governance?
What is urban government?
By 2006 half the worlds population (3.2 billion people)
will live in urban areas - a 20-fold increase from 1900.
Rapid urbanization in the 20th century has magnified the
environmental impact of cities. Because of inadequate
infrastructural systems, poor planning and weak urban
management, cities disproportionately drive global
warming, increase water scarcity and extend built-up
According to the Worldwatch Institutes recent briefing
on Reinventing Cities changes in at least six areas -
water, waste, food, energy, transportation, and land use
- are needed
While rapid urbanization concentrates
population and economic growth in cities,
creating better opportunities for livelihood,
at the same time cities face daunting
challenges: overcrowding, poverty,
environmental decay, inefficient systems
of municipal service delivery, scarce
finance and inefficient administration.
Urban management means that city
governments together with other urban
stakeholders - civil society, private sector,
and local communities - assume an active
role in mobilization, management and
coordination of resources to support the
objectives of urban development and
ensure the vitality of cities.
A city, hence, is sustainable if it can
provide all its inhabitants the
environmental, social, cultural and
economic needs without threatening
natural, built or societal systems on which
the safeguarding of these needs is based.
Increasing local planning capacities, improving
financial resources, guiding urban development
processes in an action-oriented manner,
establishing institutional mechanisms and
procedures for participation and democratization
of local decision-making processes, are just a
few of the challenges urban managers - mayors,
legislators, planners and service providers - face
to make cities a more sustainable place for
people and for the planet.
Many national governments pursue a
strategy to shift the responsibility for
municipal management from states to
cities, and local capacity building as well
as community participation must be
enhanced to support this process.
A diverse set of objectives to enhance the
quality and capacity of urban management
structures and processes has to be
pursued comprising urban land
management, infrastructure improvement,
environmental management, poverty
alleviation etc.
Where urban growth is far exceeding the
capacity of infrastructure and services, and
inadequate environmental management
measures have contributed to a significant
degradation of valuable natural resources, the
strain has adversely affected the quality of life of
urban dwellers.
Yet, urban planning and management tools will
have to be adjusted to meet these fundamental
challenges in order to enhance the capacity to
manage urban growth and development.
To improve urban places
To improve urban places there are five essential
areas that require the attention of local
governments, mayors and urban managers, and
hence can be identified as imminent training
needs for urban management:
Establishing effective channels of communication
to mobilize citizens participation, providing
transparency and accountability; strengthening
stakeholder participation to enhance
commitment to and resource mobilization for
jointly elaborated urban strategies;
Improving the design of spatial policies to
cope with rapid urban growth, of inter-
sectoral programs to resolve urban
problems, and of technical infrastructure
and social projects sensitive to the needs
of urban communities;
Resolving urban environmental issues to
create a healthier urban environment;
reduce the pressure of cities on natural
resources and decrease the environmental
impact of cities;
Empowering the urban poor by giving
assets to them which in turn enhance their
living conditions, e.g. through secure land
titles; developing urban economies to
provide opportunities to them, e.g.
through channeling micro-finance to the
urban informal sector;
Mobilizing adequate finance in line with
responsibilities taken over by
municipalities in the fields of service
provision and infrastructure maintenance,
by pricing urban services, building
partnerships with the private sector to
manage and finance urban infrastructure.
Urban government

Local state
Local government
Municipal government
Urban governance
The local state

Municipal government
Special purpose bodies (commissions,
programs, boards, units, authorities, etc.)
Voluntary associations
Features of the municipality
Its corporate nature
Defined geographic boundaries
An elected council
Its taxing power
Primary purposes
of local government

To act as a political mechanism through

which a local community can express its
collective objectives, and
To provide various services and programs
to local residents
Local government
responsibility includes

Protective services (fire, police)

Transportation services (roads, public transit)
Environmental services (sewers, garbage disposal, water
Social and health services (welfare administration, day
care, homes for seniors, public health programs)
Recreation and cultural services
Land use planning
And sometimes education
History and constitutional
status of municipalities

Constitutional Act of 1867

The incorporation of municipalities under
provincial legislation (legal and political status of
Legal features of municipalities:
Defined territory
Mechanism (elected council) to make legally
enforceable decisions
List of legal governmental functions
Four principles of
municipalities' constitutional
Municipal institutions:
1)lack constitutional status,
2)are creatures of the legislature and exist only
if provincial legislation so provides,
3)have no independent autonomy and their
powers are subject to abolition or repeal by
provincial legislation,
4)may exercise only those powers that are
conferred upon them by statute.
Intergovernmental relationships

Central government
Provincial government
Government responsibilities
hard (infrastructure) services should be
the full responsibility of municipalities
soft (human) services should be the
proper function of the provincial
Saudi System assigned these
functions to municipalities

Public health protection

Local roads and streets
Collection and disposal of residential solid
Sewage systems
Regulation of local land use
Funds for local service

An annual Budget
And user fees
Other charges
Municipal reform and

Contracting out
Major issues in contemporary
urban governance
The importance of economic development
The fiscal squeeze
Fostering and sustaining livable cities
Debates in Saudi context

The historical and continuing debates about the

place of local government in Saudi political
Changing perspectives concerning the role of
cities in the international context
Debates about the structure and internal
operations of city governments, including the
question: Whom does/should Municipality
council serve?
Issues in Saudi context of
urban governance

The apolitical nature of city politics, because

Saudi city elections are non-partisan
The intergovernmental maze due to the current
situation of intergovernmental relationships
between the three levels of government in Saudi
The degree of democracy and participation in
city politics