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Is the California Fire Fee an unfair tax on homeowners in danger zones?

by AirTalk®

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A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter drops water on a fire burning on the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Monrovia, Calif., on Saturday, April 20, 2013. John Antczak/AP

Since it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011, the rural fire fee has been dogged by criticism. The $150 fee affects some 825,000 homeowners in California and is supposed to pay for fire prevention services in rural and wildfire-prone areas.

Multiple legislature efforts have been raged to repeal the fee, with two current bills currently moving through the California legislature. This March, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a libertarian organization, filed a lawsuit against the fee, arguing that it is essentially a tax, thus a two-thirds majority vote is needed in the legislature for its approval.

In April, the State Board of Equalization and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that they will postpone collecting the fee, after the state received close to 90,000 appeals from homeowners. Should rural homeowners pay more for fire prevention services? Is the $150 an unfair tax?


Marc Lifsher, reporter at the Los Angeles Times


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