Tuesday, March 13, 2012

California Assembly Bill 2474 Targets Rural Property Owners Disproportionately

Governor Brown this year has waged a campaign to charge rural residents for the costs of fire protection since an increasing number have moved into wildland areas. And state fire officials say the greater the number of homes in rural areas, the higher the cost of fighting fires.

Assembly Bill 2474 (Chesbro) was introduced in the California Legislature on February 24, 2012 to address some of the concerns facing Californians who own real property in the state fire responsibility areas (SRA), and who will start seeing bills (in the amount of $150 per habitable structure for fire prevention fees) show up in their mailboxes this June.
AB 2474 will require the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to take into consideration: (1) any amounts that an owner of a structure in a SRA already pays for local fire prevention services, and (2) the severity of the fire zone where the structure is located. If this bill is signed into law it should comfort homeowners who already actively engage in fire prevention measures on their own, and those who own property in SRA zones where the fire severity rating is lower.

The current existing law requires the Board to adopt emergency regulations to establish a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each structure on a parcel that is within a SRA. The Board is required to adjust the fee annually using prescribed methods. The fees (tax) will provide $85 million to State coffers. This is another way to slowly increase the cost of living to homeowners and land owners. Rural property owners have less support and clout than urban property owners, and they call it a fee instead of a tax to reduce its attention. Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston was quoted as calling the $150 charge "a farce to fill a budget gap created by the state."

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