Notices about California’s fire prevention fee will be in the mail any day now, and state and county officials expect to field angry responses from homeowners.
The California Board of Equalization begins mailing notices of the state’s new fire prevention fee next week. Bills will arrive soon after. Houses subject to the $150 fee are in the 31 million acre State Responsibility Area, where fire protection is charged to the state.
Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the increase in the number of homes there has made it more expensive for the state to fight wildfires.
“Services like public safety are vital," says Berlant. "This new fee will create a stable funding source for public safety and in these tough times we can’t afford not to put money towards fire prevention.”
Republican Senator George Runner with the Board of Equalization says he thinks the issue will end up in court because many homeowners see the fee as an illegal tax.
"This goes on to basically pay the ongoing infrastructure for Cal Fire," says Runner. "Which may or may not benefit a particular fee payer, which is why many of us think it’s a tax.”
The law gives a $35 discount for structures already in a local fire district.