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Mon Sep 17, 2012, 06:36 PM

California Rural Fire Prevention Fee

The State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Prevention Benefit Fee was enacted following the signing of Assembly Bill X1 29 in July 2011. The law approved the new annual Fire Prevention Fee to pay for fire prevention services within the SRA. The fee is applied to all habitable structures within the SRA.

The fee is levied at the rate of $150 per habitable structure, which is defined as a building that can be occupied for residential use. Owners of habitable structures who are also within the boundaries of a local fire protection agency will receive a reduction of $35 per habitable structure.

This fee will fund a variety of important fire prevention services within the SRA including brush clearance and activities to improve forest health so the forest can better withstand wildfire.


Disclosure: I do not seem to live in an area subject to the fee. However, a border of that area is just a block or two away according to their map. That close-by area includes a lot of very modest structures occupied by 99% type of folks with standard 55'x100' lots. No. Those close by homes seem to be occupied by < 80%ers.

It is undoubtedly true that the fee will also apply to a number of people who live on parcels of 5 acres or greater, and for whom the "habitable structure" could be called mansions. Yet, according to the above website, the fee will be the same, $150. As the bill seems to have been passed back in 2011, it also seems working folks of rather modest means will simply be subsidizing folks who could care less about an extra $150, if they are unlucky enough to live in the SRA.

It would be rather ironic if Governor Brown leaves office with the nickname Governor Fee Fee.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply California Rural Fire Prevention Fee (Original post)
Trillo Sep 2012 OP
dimbear Sep 2012 #1
Trillo Sep 2012 #3
KamaAina Sep 2012 #5
tularetom Sep 2012 #2
Trillo Sep 2012 #4
savalez Sep 2012 #6
nadinbrzezinski Sep 2012 #7

Response to Trillo (Original post)

Mon Sep 17, 2012, 06:59 PM

1. Fallout from Prop 13.

I don't actually mind paying it, since I live in the middle of a forest. ( A fair portion of this little town burned over in the 1960s. )

Of course it's unfair that it can't be scaled to property value, but that's exactly what Prop 13 outlaws.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:21 AM

3. perhaps you mean the ad valorem phrase.

There's nothing stopping a creative approach except the legislative will. Such as one based upon current gross income. The state already has that data on everyone, it's a required yearly filing.

OTOH, that may require including cities so the firefighting tax would apply to all California taxpayers, since rural areas tend toward more poverty, even though some of the 1% have their estates in such low-population density areas.

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Response to Trillo (Reply #3)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 06:16 PM

5. Or square footage, maybe?


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Response to Trillo (Original post)

Mon Sep 17, 2012, 08:59 PM

2. I don't mind paying it

Our local volunteer fire company went out of business because the county no longer would pay our insurance premiums. So now we are in the SRA, and 15 miles from a fire station in the middle of grasslands and scattered oak trees that is more or less tinder from June to November.

We've had two large grass fires in the past 25 years. One of them burned right up to the county road adjoining our property. If it jumped the road it would have burned all the way to our house.

Our home owners insurance premiums have always been exorbitant. Maybe the insurance companies will take this fee as a sign that the state is affirmatively assuming some of the responsibility for fire protection in rural areas.

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Response to tularetom (Reply #2)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:49 AM

4. In our local case, the fire department is ~1/4 mile from the border of the SRA.

They're not volunteers.

When we moved here, we considered buying a foreclosure that would have been on the border street, and thus in the SRA. It required so much work, new floors and walls, it was built many decades ago, and it was a tiny structure, with tiny rooms, don't remember the square footage of the whole place, but maybe 800-900 square feet. We decided to not bid on it due to the renovation work required to make it livable. I think it sold at auction for $43K or thereabouts (in 1999), but I'm going from a rather poor memory. What I'm trying to say is these border areas are places where rather poor folks are likely to live, given that this is Southern California.

Travel another 1/4 mile north, and there's a canyon, and the canyon rim properties are generally sprawling estates, clearly those of folks of more means. And, some of those places on the canyon rim burned in the last decade in some pretty devastating fires, though the fire departments did a great job at saving most of them.

(Now that I write this out, I'm gonna have to direct all the solicitors we get 1/4 mile north. Sorry, you're at the wrong house, but I know where you need to go! I keep forgetting to do that.)

To me, it's just sad that our overall tax load is so regressive, and clearly getting moreso, while 1%er folks like Romney (Governor Feefee) prattle on about the 47% freeloaders.

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Response to Trillo (Original post)

Wed Sep 19, 2012, 07:41 PM

6. Republicans had a chance to stop it.

All they had to do was agree to close a corporate tax loop hole. All that was needed was 3 Republicans to join the Democrats and the Fire fee would've been erased but only one Republican did. The rest chose to side with Corporations instead of rural voters including their own constituency.

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Response to Trillo (Original post)

Thu Sep 20, 2012, 09:27 PM

7. Two points


1.- Prop 13, there I said it.

2.- I guess we need a few more firestorms for people to get it. Fire services COST MONEY. You want it...

On the bright side...it makes for dramatic photos.

In the case of San Diego county, it will take 10 o 20, and then maybe.

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