Canyon Lake to local businesses – Tax You!

Published: November 7, 2009

Irony abounds. On the same day Los Angeles appointed a blue ribbon panel to study ways to reduce taxes and encourage business, the Canyon Lake City Council decided it was time to raise taxes, errr, FEES and singled out ‘Professional Employees and Professional Licensees’ for an additional tax, errr, FEE. (They went to great pains to point out in their ordinance that this is a FEE and shall not  be construed as a TAX.) Whatever – the net result is if you’re a professional licensee it’ll now cost you more for the privilege of doing business in Canyon Lake.

Exactly why they singled out ‘Professional Licensees’ to hit up for more taxes, sorry – FEES, is anybodies guess. Maybe the city leaders just figured that’s where the money’s at since it apparently isn’t in the city coffers and they need more. So they determined that in addition to the customary ‘Business License Tax’ that owners of every business pay every year, they were going to break that down even further to “protect the public health, safety and welfare as well as provide for efficient administration of the program”. That’s clever – invent an unnecessary program and then tax people to run it. These people may have bright futures in state politics.

Ryan Smith, IVAR GAD, board Counsel John Giardinelli and I have been working with the City to address the madness of this ordinance since July. We have held numerous meetings with city staff and counsel and, as of a month ago, had actually reached what we felt was an equitable compromise. Unfortunately the CL Mayor visited her hairdresser a few days before the most recent council meeting and the current Ordinance 121 revision was the result of that high level conference. (No, I am not lying).

From here on out, any ‘Professional Associate or licensee’ including, but not limited to, realtors, attorneys,beauticians, barbers, manicurists, dentists, dental hygienists, veterinarians, doctors, podiatrists and chiropractors get to pay extra to operate in Canyon Lake. It applies to ‘businesses which have a fixed location within the city as well as those which do not‘.

So if you’re a Broker, attorney, doctor, etc. with an office in Canyon Lake, you will owe this extra fee for every licensee under you. If you are a Realtor from elsewhere and you list a property in Canyon Lake, they will send you a bill. They are unclear on whether they can bill your Broker for every agent in your office whether or not they do business in Canyon Lake but for sure you’ll get a bill because of your sign. If you represent a buyer on a property in CL, they have no way of figuring that out so you can either just pony up the tax, errrr FEE because you are a fool, or you get a free pass.

I’m sure all the agents from San Diego and Los Angeles (& Murrieta and Riverside) listing bank-owned homes in Canyon Lake will just be falling over themselves to send in that extra payment.Their code enforcement person is going to have a full time job tracking down these signs, sending bills, stopping by offices to count noses and ensure compliance etc.

What? You say they don’t have and can’t afford to devote a full time code enforcement officer to this effort? Jeez, maybe it’s gonna be a challenge collecting those payments from Ventura and the OC then. If they’re lucky a few businesses in Canyon Lake might comply – everybody else will just give this program the respect it so richly deserves – doo-dah.

The City claims this is necessary for ‘disaster preparedness and in the event of an emergency’. So by their logic, if your building is on fire, instead of calling the owner of record they could just call some random Realtor or hairdresser. If your business is being burgled, don’t call themanager, just call somebody that does nails in the back stall or a random podiatrist. Yeah, that makes sense.

In summary, under Ordinance 121, the City of Canyon Lake has singled out ‘licensed professionals’ working in or thinking about working in the City for an additional tax, errr, FEE. They claim they need to do this for ‘disaster preparedness and emergency contact’, and they’re counting, in large degree, on voluntary compliance because they don’t have the manpower necessary to enforce it. They have invented an unnecessary program and want to charge you an additional fee to implement it.

At this point you may be wondering what the additional tax, errrr FEE is? $20. That’s right, $20. One lonely Andrew Jackson. As a representative from their Chamber asked, why is the City willing to piss off some 300+ business’ still hanging on in Canyon Lake over $20?If they’re lucky, they might generate a few grand. Probably not. He told them straight out “You aren’t listening!”. He was right.

If there’s any good news to be gleaned from this ludicrosity, they started out demanding $90 a head, they ended up at $20. Of course since the amount of annual increase is unspecified, they could decide to jack it to $90 next year now that it’s in place.

Anyway, if you’re thinking about dong business in Canyon Lake, you might want to check out the City’s record on business friendly ordinances before you jump. Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar are right next door and they would love to have your business. And it won’t cost you an extra $20 a head to do it.

You can read the full text of this ordinance if they every figure out how to post it to their website.


Last modified: November 7, 2009 at 11:51 am | Originally published: November 7, 2009 at 11:51 am
Printed: September 29, 2020