Between 6,000 and 9,000 parcels of land in Ventura County may soon be subject to a new fire prevention fee.
The fee, part of an Assembly bill signed in July 2011, applies to all habitable structures within the State Responsibility Area (SRA), according to the State's Web site.
The SRA is the area of the state where the state of California is financially responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfires. SRA does not include lands within city boundaries or in federal ownership. Visit the State's SRA viewer Web page to see if your residence falls within the area.
The fee is $150 per habitable structure. Owners for such structures that are also within the boundaries of a local fire protection agency will receive a reduction of $35 per structure.
Following is the Ventura County Fire Protection District's statement about the fees:
Ventura County residents living in the State Responsibility Area will begin receiving notices and bills in early December from the State of California for a newly imposed fire prevention fee. The Ventura County Fire Department and the County of Ventura have vigorously opposed the implementation of this fee, just as they have opposed other, similar, fees in the past.
“We believe residents living within the SRA and within the jurisdiction of our department are already paying for fire protection and prevention,” said Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. “In addition, we’ve managed our budget very carefully and we don’t require the funds being collected under this fee to provide these services to Ventura County residents.”
The fee is intended to provide a stable source of funding for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) budget that is spent on fire prevention activities. Cal Fire is responsible for fire protection services of over 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands. The agency contracts with the Ventura County Fire Department to provide these services in the Ventura County SRA.
The State Responsibility Area consists of State and privately-owned forest, watershed and rangeland where Cal Fire has the primary financial responsibility for preventing and suppressing wildland fires. In Ventura County, there are about 17,500 parcels that are at least partially within the SRA. Of those, between 6,000 and 9,000 may be subject to the fee.
The State Board of Equalization will be sending out the bills and collecting the fees. The fee is $150 per habitable structure per year. A habitable structure is defined as a building used, or intended to be used, for human habitation.
“There is a provision that reduces the bill by $35 per habitable structure when the property is protected by a local fire district," said Lorenzen. “It is our belief that all of the properties subject to the fee within our jurisdiction should receive the reduced rate of $115.”
Fees that are collected will become part of Cal Fire’s prevention budget. Under the law, Cal Fire can then issue grants back to the counties for local fire prevention activities