The City of Lake Elsinore was founded in 1883 and incorporated on April 20, 1888. In 1893, the Elsinore Valley, previously in San Diego County, became a part of the new County of Riverside.
The City is incorporated as a general law city. The City has a Council/Manager form of municipal government.
Most City departments are located in the main building of City Hall including the City Manager's Office, Human Resources, Engineering, Building and Safety, Planning, Finance and the City Clerk's office. Some departments are located nearby such as the Lake Department and Public Works.