The unpopular fire prevention fee that cost rural California property owners an extra $100 plus per year per parcel with a habitable dwelling might soon be reinstated. The fee, $152.33 per qualifying structure, has been in effect since July 1, 2014, and is payable by homeowners where Cal Fire had the principal responsibility. Three Rivers homeowners were given a $35 annual reduction for also being in a Tulare County fire district.
An estimated 800,000 property owners are affected statewide. The fee was suspended earlier this year when state legislators appropriated money to pay for fire prevention (i.e., property inspections) from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund pending outcome of a lawsuit that was filed against the State of California by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association.
On Monday, Dec. 11, a California judge sided with the Attorney General and dismissed the “fire tax” lawsuit on grounds that it should have been set for hearing sooner. The following day, the HJTA filed an appeal to the ruling.
No one knows when or if the fire fee will be reinstated. But what is for certain, following the destructive and deadly fires in Northern and Southern California in recent months, there are a lot more Californians willing to invest in fire protection.