CALIFORNIA – A new bill passed by the California State Legislature makes important changes to the Rural Fire Fee imposed on certain property owners across California in 2011.
AB 2048, which was approved and filed on Sept. 30, 2014, makes substantive changes to the law, including allowing Cal Fire to consider any appeal/protest to the fee that was submitted after the filing deadline.
AB 2048 will also eliminate the 20 percent per month penalty currently imposed on late payments. As of Jan. 1, 2015, this charge will no longer be added to any amount due and payable, and instead, a one-time 10 percent penalty will be imposed.
There is also a provision in the new bill that the SRA fire tax/fee could be refunded to homeowners if their house is destroyed due to a natural disaster.
The State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Prevention Benefit Fee was enacted following the signing of Assembly Bill X1 29 in July 2011. The law approved the new annual Fire Prevention Fee to pay for fire prevention services within the State Responsibility Areas. The fee is applied to all habitable structures within the SRA.
Existing law requires the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to adopt emergency regulations to establish a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each structure, defined as a building used or intended to be used for human habitation, on a parcel that is within a state responsibility area.
The new bill deletes the definition of “structure” for purposes of the fire prevention tax/fee, and instead uses “habitable structure,” which is defined to mean a building that contains one or more dwelling units that can be occupied for residential use.
Owners of habitable structures who are also within the boundaries of a local fire protection agency will receive a reduction of $35 per habitable structure.
To read the entire bill, click here.