South San Francisco occupies the basin and portions of the sides of a broad valley formed by the San Bruno Mountains on the north and the Coast Range on the west. Most of the valley faces adjacent San Francisco Bay, affording sweeping vistas, from higher levels and a definite sense of identification with the Bay. South San Francisco has mild winters and dry cool summers. The hills to the west shield the city from much of the fog that prevails in neighboring areas.
The population has tripled since World War II with the opening of such subdivisions as Buri Buri, Winston Manor and Westborough on the slopes west of El Camino. It has grown from 4,411 in 1920 to 67,082 in 2019.
South San Francisco offers its citizens a city in which to live comfortably in fine residential areas; a place of recreation in parks, swimming pools, and marina; a place to work in more than 2,800 firms and businesses including many biotech companies such as Genentech which gives the city the title of "Birthplace of Biotechnology".
Structure of Government
City Council – Five members, elected to Four-Year Terms
The governing body of South San Francisco is the City Council, which establishes local law and policies through the enactment of ordinances and resolutions. The Council also determines how the City shall obtain and spend funds, appoints members to all advisory municipal activities and represents the City by serving on Regional and County committees/boards whose policies may impact South San Francisco (i.e., Associated Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission). The Council provides direction for the City Manager and sits as the Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors. The Council position is a salaried position.
City Clerk – Elected to a Four-Year Term
The City Clerk is the archivist of City records and, as such, maintains records and prepares the minutes of Council proceedings. Additional responsibilities include providing information to the general public and staff, through research of City records, administering municipal elections and processing initiative recalls and referendum petitions. The Clerk also processes Conflict of Interest Statements for designated employees, Council members and candidates for Council seats. This is a full-time, salaried position.
City Treasurer – Elected to a Four-Year Term
The City Treasurer is responsible for investing City funds to achieve the maximum return on deposits. Reports identifying amounts and types of investment instruments are provided quarterly to the City Council. The duties of this position include arranging for payment on City Bonds, coordinating financial transactions, in cooperation with the Finance Director, and preparation of property tax assessments, upon individual requests from residents. This is a part-time, salaried position.
City Manager – Appointed by City Council
The City Manager is the Chief Administrative Officer of the City and is appointed by the City Council. The City Manager provides, in accordance with the City Council policies, overall administration, and direction for the City organization. This position also serves as the Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency and as the Director of Emergency Services.
City Attorney – Appointed by City Council
The City Attorney serves as legal counsel for the City Council and the Redevelopment Agency. This position is responsible for providing both formal and informal legal opinions, as well as advice to the City's officers, employees, boards and commissions. The duties of this position also include the review and/or preparation of all contracts, bonds, deeds, leases and other documents of legal significance.