ABX1 29: The Fire Prevention Fee Law

By Ron Peterka

Disclosure: While I am a longtime member of the Intermountain Volunteer Fire Department, this is my personal view. The Board of Directors of Intermountain Fire has taken no position on this fee at this time.

Approximately 25% of the land in San Diego County is open range or mountains. In and near our Ramona postal zone there are many residents living on various sized plots of open land with great natural beauty and quiet vistas. If this describes your situation, and your property is protected by Cal Fire, you may be in for a rude surprise later this year when Assembly Bill ABX1 29 takes effect and you get a $150 bill for each “habitable structure” on your property. You will have 30 days to pay without a 20 percent per month penalty.

This bill is intended to raise $200 million annually, ostensibly for the sole purpose of fire prevention. This is not fire protection because the State Department of Finance feels that if this “fee” is used for “fire protection” there will be a problem maintaining the “fee” status and would require a ballot vote with a 2/3 majority to pass. The assemblyman who wrote this bill wants to help Governor Brown with the state budget problems and $200 million would be a good step in that direction. Various state agencies vary on the reason for this bill ranging from good public policy to balance the state budget.

No fire protection agency in California supports this fee. Cal Fire was charged on very short notice to supply a list of all land parcels that might have habitable structures on land they are charged with protecting. They were granted $1,000 from the general fund to provide this list which cost Cal Fire $500,000 from their budget to produce. The administrative costs of this bill are to be paid from proceeds with no limit set.

So, what will we get? The funds will go to several agencies like the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) who will do various approved brush clearing projects. You will get grants to Fire Safe Councils, and inspections of your property to ensure compliance with defensible space rulings, and probably lots of pamphlets and TV spots.

What you won’t get is $200 million worth of increased fire protection. The fees collected from the residents in the Intermountain Volunteer Fire response area would fund almost all of our annual budget and would provide 24/7/365 fire and emergency services for 125 square miles of your backcountry.

Ron Peterka is a Ramona resident.

Related posts:

  1. Contentious rural fire tax strips Cal Fire of money, says Berlant
  2. Supervisors oppose rural fire tax, Cal Fire cuts
  3. Parcel tax unfair to rural property owners, says Jacob
  4. Governor signs fire tax bill for rural areas
  5. Bill to establish fire tax awaits governor’s action

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Aug 22 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

5 Comments for “ABX1 29: The Fire Prevention Fee Law”

  1. tom

    all you fools who voted the democrats into office are getting exactly what you deserve.. calif is a broken state that fails to address the real problems they have, i am leaving happily this miserable state….

    • Brian Jarvis

      California is the place you want to leave, so load up the truck and move to,,, let see…..Texas. Gas is about $0.75 a gallon cheaper, food costs less the list goes on and on. You can feel the freedom when you leave California. The sad reality of the matter is that San Diego and Ramona specifically, are two the best places on the planet to live. I would come home but for the taxes and the liberal agenda in Sacramento. It feels great not getting ripped off by the State of California any more. To all of my friends: I miss you!

  2. [...] ABX1 29: The Fire Prevention Fee LawRamona SentinelVarious state agencies vary on the reason for this bill ranging from good public policy to balance the state budget. No fire protection agency in California supports this fee. Cal Fire was charged on very short notice to supply a list of all land … [...]

  3. Jodie

    What a bunch of crap this is. California can't manage it's budget so it has to TAX, again, middle class property owners. Is no other property owner outraged at this?

  4. Steve Hogan

    Assemblymember Blumenthal who authored this bill, and his cronies who voted for this TAX are willing to GOUGE any one not in their district. None of his constituents (he represents VAN NUYS) will get a bill and therefore he is the perfect stooge. He like the other members who voted for this prostitute themselves to ensure their reelection.

    Outrageous, yes. But this is typical behavior from politicians. Remember the last "fee" because of fiscal problems. Check your tax bill. The Dept of water Resources issued bonds to pay for the last fiscal debacle created by irresponsible, indifferent legislators who insulate themselves from any responsibility for fiscal accountability.

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