What is the difference between the City of Canyon Lake and Canyon Lake POA?

Many Canyon Lake residents, especially newcomers, often struggle to discern the distinction between the City of Canyon Lake and the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association (POA), leading to confusion regarding the respective functions and roles of these two entities.

It is essential for Canyon Lake residents to understand that the city operates as a municipal entity serving all citizens within its jurisdiction, whereas the POA functions as a private association catering to property owners and their collective interests within the community.

The city serves the citizens of Canyon Lake. The POA is a private entity that serves the property owners and their associates.

The community of Canyon Lake was first developed by the Corona Land Company in 1968. The POA was incorporated on May 6, 1968. The City of Canyon Lake was incorporated on December 1, 1990, becoming the 22nd city in Riverside County.

What is the difference between the City of Canyon Lake and the Canyon Lake POA?

The five members of the city council are responsible for formulating the policies for the city and approving the major actions through which the municipal functions are conducted. The city provides municipal services, such as policing and fire safety, as well as the city’s basic infrastructure. The city council is a municipal body having legislative and administrative powers, such as passing ordinances and appropriating funds. All of the areas outside the gates are under the jurisdiction of the city council.

The purpose of the POA is to promote the recreation, benefit, and enjoyment of the homeowners in Canyon Lake. The POA maintains the common areas and elements of the community (behind the private gates), ensures compliance with Governing Documents, and conducts the financial business of the POA. The POA’s five directors are collectively responsible for the oversight of the management and operation of the POA’s business affairs.

How are Members of the City Council and POA Board of Directors Appointed?

The five council members are elected for staggered four-year terms by the citizens (registered voters) of Canyon Lake. POA directors are elected for staggered two-year terms by the homeowners of Canyon Lake. The mayor leads the city council, the POA president leads the board of directors.

Council positions, such as mayor and mayor pro tem, are appointed by a vote of the five council members. This vote is taken annually. POA director positions, such as president, vice president, etc., are appointed by a vote of the five directors on the board. This vote is taken annually.

City council members pass/approve city ordinances. POA directors pass/approve POA rules and regulations.

Are City Council Members and POA Directors Paid for their Services?

City council members receive a monthly stipend. POA directors do not receive a monthly stipend.

When are City Council and POA Meetings Held?

City council meetings are held monthly on the second Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall. POA board meetings are held monthly on the first Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Bay Room at the Lodge.

What are the Roles of the City Manager and POA General Manager?

The city manager is the chief executive officer of the city, hired by the city council to manage the city’s administrative responsibilities and day-to-day operations. The POA general manager is hired by the members of the POA board to manage POA staff and the day-to-day operations of the POA.

The city manager answers to the city council. The POA general manager answers to the board of directors. It takes a vote of three council members to remove the city manager. It takes a vote of four POA directors to remove the POA general manager.

What is the Difference Between Police and Community Patrol Services

Police officers enforce the law. Community Patrol employees enforce POA rules and regulations.

The city contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services. Services are funded by taxes.

The POA contracts its Community Patrol services. Community Patrol employees are part of the contractor’s staff, not the POA’s staff. Community Patrol employees are not police officers. They don’t carry weapons and they can’t detain or arrest people. Services are funded by POA members’ dues.

When to Call the Police Versus Community Patrol

Residents should call the police for issues pertaining to the law: theft, vandalism to personal property, assault, drunk driving, etc. 

Residents should call Community Patrol for issues pertaining to the POA Rules and Regulations: noise complaints, vandalism to common property (such as POA amenities/parks), barking dogs, underage golf cart drivers, etc.

For emergencies or to report a crime, call 9-1-1. To report someone breaking a POA rule or regulation, call Community Patrol.

Community Patrol Citations

Community Patrol enforces the POA’s Rules and Regulations by issuing citations. The POA’s Hearing Services oversees the citation process. This department can help a POA member through the process of resolving a citation. It does not resolve citations issued by police officers. The courts resolve citations issued by police officers.

Who Provides Fire Services?

The city has its own fire department. Station 1 is located on Vacation Drive. The city also owns the fire station property. The city purchased the property from the POA on December 8, 2023, for $1.39 million. Fire services are funded by taxes.

Who Provides Marine Patrol Services?

Marine Patrol employees are part of the POA staff and its services are paid for by the dues POA members pay. Marine Patrol enforces the POA’s Rules and Regulations pertaining to the Lake and Marina Section (excessive wake, speeding on the lake, etc.). Marine Patrol also ensures all boats on or above the water are registered with the POA and issues safety certificates and watercraft inspections. Services are funded by POA members’ dues.

Who Owns the Lake?

Canyon Lake, also referred to as Railroad Canyon Reservoir, is a drinking water reservoir owned and operated by the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD). EVMWD leases the surface rights to the POA, which allows Canyon Lake residents to use the lake for recreational use.

The reservoir is supplied by stormwater runoff from the San Jacinto River and Salt Creek.

EVMWD also owns and operates the Canyon Lake Dam, also known as Railroad Canyon Dam. The construction of the dam was started in 1927 and completed in 1929. In 1996, EVMWD spent about $9.1 million to upgrade and widen the dam to withstand a 1,000-year flood event. 

Business Licences

All businesses, including home-based businesses, must have a business license to conduct business in the City of Canyon Lake. Business licenses are issued through the city.

To read a brief history of the community of Canyon Lake, click here. For more information about the incorporation of the POA, click here. For more articles about the history of Canyon Lake, visit our Canyon Lake History section.


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