Browns Bay is under the local governance of the North Shore City Council.
2006 census figures show the population as about 4,000, but surrounding areas such as Northcross and Oaktree are technically part of the area so the resident population is closer to 16,000.
Browns Bay is well known for its sizeable South African and British communities. There is an annual African festival held there every March as well as Afrikaans churches and community centres, plus South African shops such as Janssen's deli that sell a wide range of products such as boerwors, biltong etc. Consequently, Browns Bay is sometimes known as "Little Bloemfontein". For the British, there is Speaker's Corner, one of Auckland's iconic English pubs, as well as Bramptin's - a grocery store selling only British imported wares.
In April 2007, North Shore City Council announced that they would not fund a ferry terminal in Browns Bay.