New fees for rural SLO County residents

August 13, 2012

Later this week, thousands of San Luis Obispo County rural residents will begin receiving bills for a new annual “fire prevention fee” levied by the state of California and criticized by opponents as unnecessary and illegal.

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed the fee last year and lawmakers approved it in order to generate an estimated $84 million for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The annual charge can run as high as $150 for each single occupied dwelling in rural areas. Most property owners will receive a $35 discount for living in a fire district; an estimated 90 percent of structures qualify for that savings.

Cal Fire officials estimate 800,000 such structures exist on land where it provides fire service.

The annual fee is slated to pay for fire-prevention efforts such as thinning brush and trees from around structures and not for fire suppression.

Officials from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said they plan to file a lawsuit to have the fee declared unconstitutional because it is actually a tax, which requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to enact.

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No one likes to pay more fees for anything. Those that are really honestly objecting should contact someone at the link for the web site provided. Myself I suspect that if home owners insurance actually made each of the rural residents that are in extreme fire areas pay for fire protection historically noted in those areas and then insurance pays the state each time a major fire campaign erupts in the area to fund it, those owners would be really upset. Such areas are in the lower areas of the state for the most part but pockets of such areas exist all over the state. In other words another way of funding fire protection in all it’s forms is to have those that need the service the most, pay the most. But as with many ways of doing business the actual cost is dispersed over the entire state so one particular group does not pay extreme rates. It this fair? The debate will continue but nothing will be any less expensive in our future