Friday, August 26, 2011
New California Law imposes a New Annual $150 "Fire Prevention Fee"
The State of California will soon start collecting an annual “fire prevention fee” from property owners in wildland areas where the state has responsibility for providing fire protection. A fee of one hundred fifty dollars ($150) will be charged on each structure intended for human habitation in this State Responsibility Area (“SRA”), commencing with the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
The $150 fire prevention fee is not a “per parcel” charge, but is to be levied on each habitable structure on the parcel. For example, a parcel containing one habitable structure would be charged $150, while a parcel with three habitable structures would be charged three times that amount, or $450 each year.
Approximately 850,000 property owners will be affected by the new fee, which affects 56 of the State’s 58 counties. The Board of Equalization will collect the fee from property owners identified in the SRA by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (“CalFire”).
Not a “firefighting fee”
The new law, based on Assembly Bill X1 29, is very clear about the fee’s intended purpose. The moneys collected will create an “SRA Fire Prevention Fund”, which will be used for specified “fire prevention” activities that will benefit the owners within the SRA who are required to pay the fee. The bill does not earmark any portion of the fee for firefighting services.
FANHD already discloses when a property is within the SRA. With this new levy, our report now also includes a special “State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fee Disclosure”.
The new disclosure is in the Tax Report section of FANHD's combined report packages. It explicitly notifies the buyer whether the property is subject to the annual $150 fire prevention fee per habitable structure as determined by the State.