Gov. Brown Establishes New Fire Protection Fee

People living in fire districts serviced by CAL FIRE can expect to pay up to $90 in fire prevention fees.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) passed emergency regulation on Monday which will effect anyone who lives in a state fire responsibility area, including 1.2 million acres in San Diego County.

The regulation is a direct result of Assembly Bill 29, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 7, 2011. The law required CAL FIRE's board to adopt emergency regulation by Sept. 1, according to CAL FIRE's Daniel Berlant.

Governor Brown enacted the law in order to save $50 million of CAL FIRE’s general budget by raising $50 million for the department’s Special Fund, which covers a portion of the state's budget to fight large wildfires, Berlant said.

CAL FIRE separated San Diego County into three separate severity zones, moderate, high, and very high. Residents living in moderate or high zones will only pay up to $70, while those living in the very high zones could pay up to $90, Berlant said.

The department did allow for three fee exemptions that would reduce the cost for property owners. Any property owner who has had a current defensible space inspection by CAL FIRE would receive a deduction of $10. Homeowners who live in a county which has a fire safety element in their general plan or fire safety regulations certified by the department, which San Diego has, would receive another $10 deduction. The third fee reduction is given to property owners who already pay a local fire protection fee which would reduce the fee by another $45, most San Diegans live within a fire protection district.

San Diegans could see a fee anywhere from $5 - $90 once the fee exemptions are calculated.

The emergency regulation is only temporary.

"The emergency regulation can only occur for 180 days, after that the board will move forward with permanent regulations," Berlant said.

The regulation has a number of issues that need to be addressed and the governor has asked the board and fire districts to give feedback. Berlant expects new language, which could change the new regulation, to come out at any time.

The State Board of Equalization says don't expect a bill before January 2012.

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