“This is an example of the majority in the Legislature’s irresponsible, unfair, and possibly illegal effort to balance its out-of-control budget on the backs of local residents, who already pay taxes and fees for this service,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “The irony is that Cal Fire does not provide structure protection, although the fee is assessed on structures, and the enabling legislation was so badly written that the fee doesn’t even address Cal Fire’s gaping budget deficit.”
The fee was imposed on all inhabitable structures in State Responsibility Areas, which are areas where Cal Fire is the primary responder for wildland fires. The fee affects tens of thousands of county residents.
Though the legislation allowed a fee of up to $150, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection on Monday limited the fee to $90 for those living in extreme fire zones and provided discounts when fire risk and other factors are taken into account, such as defensible space, and whether the homeowner already pays a fee for fire protection. The fee could change, however. Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is working to modify the fee before the Legislature adjourns for the year September 9.
“Though the reductions approved by the Board of Forestry are a positive step, the bottom line is that this fee needs to be fully rescinded,” said Supervisor Mitzelfelt. “The High Desert has the highest unemployment in the region and our residents cannot be burdened with additional taxes when so many are struggling to make ends meet.”
Supervisor Mitzelfelt encouraged residents to contact their state legislators to demand that the fee be revoked, and he thanked Third District Supervisor Neil Derry for bringing the resolution to the Board.