Thanks to Bert Ewling, editor of the Cambrian, and city editor of the SLO Tribune, for bringing this to my attention. There is a new fee in the State Budget that could significantly impact some property owners in Big Sur. This could be something that CPOA and the Big Sur Chamber might want to look into for its members.
Bert writes: “[P]art of the new state budget is a $150 fee per habitable structure on a parcel protected by Cal Fire, which it seems to me would affect large swaths of Big Sur (outside federally owned land and incorporated areas). Implementing regulations to be done by Sept. 1; fee to be assessed in the 2011-2012 fiscal year and ongoing ….”
Here is a part of the SLO Tribune article:
“Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a $150 annual wildfire protection fee for property owners in rural areas of California, even as anti-tax advocates said they are prepared to challenge the way the Legislature imposed the levy.
The Democratic governor announced that he signed the bill, ABX1-29. to ensure rural property owners pay their share of the state’s wildland firefighting costs. The state has spent an average of $177 million a year for firefighting over the past decade, although the state is awaiting federal reimbursement for part of the costs in recent years.
Read more: SLO Tribune
Here is a part of the article from aroundthecapitol
“Existing law requires the state to have the primary financial responsibility for preventing and suppressing fires in areas that the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has determined are state responsibility areas.
This bill would require the board, on or before September 1, 2011, 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 state responsibility area. The board would be required to adjust the fire prevention fee annually using prescribed methods.
The bill would require the State Board of Equalization to collect the fire prevention fees, as prescribed. The bill would require, within 30 days of the effective date of its provisions, and each January 1 thereafter, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to transmit to the State Board of Equalization the appropriate names and addresses of persons who are liable for the fire prevention fee and the amount of the fire prevention fee to be assessed by the State Board of Equalization.”
One good question Bert brings up is what would this mean to the private campgrounds and businesses that have numerous cabins/structures on the property? Or for properties that have a main house, a guest house, and a caretakers unit.Is this $150 for each structure? It appears to be. Are there set-offs for structures constructed out of fire-proof materials, or those who have sprinkler systems? Should there be? It seems to me that a blanket fee, without regard to the size, location, and construction materials, or other firefighting factors should be challenged. It is currently being investigated by the Jarvis Taxpayers Association and it made the determination that the “fee” is a “tax” that is subject to challenge. The governor says it is a fee for services. We should be watching this one – particularly businesses that have a lot of visitor-serving structures. Will it be applied differently to those businesses who have free-standing units, but not those in which the rooms are not separate units? I don’t know the answers to these questions, as I have not had the opportunity to study the bill.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against this ff fee. I am more than happy to pay for the protection. (Ummm … that is reminescent of other “protection” fees) A blow-up of the Plaskett section of the map shows that indeed I an in the SRA. 😉