Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 08/15/2013

Next round of fire fee bills

The State of California’s Board of Equalization has recently started to send out bills to over 800,000 rural property owners for fiscal year 2012-13, the second year Californians have been required to pay the controversial Fire Prevention Fee.

The levy is being collected on behalf of the state’s fire agency, CalFire. The fee is aimed at rural properties located within State Responsibility Areas (SRA), lands where the state has determined it has financial responsibility for the prevention and suppression of wildfires. SRAs do not include lands within incorporated city limits.

Approximately 26-27,000 properties fall within the SRA in Sonoma County, about 2,000 with Kenwood, Glen Ellen, or Sonoma zip codes.

The annual fire fee charge is $150 per “habitable structure,” buildings that can be used for residential use. Properties located within the boundaries of a local fire agency, such as the Kenwood Fire Protection District and Glen Ellen Fire Protection District, get a $35 reduction. The state’s Board of Equalization estimates that 90 to 95 percent of habitable structures receive a fee reduction.

Like last year, this fiscal year’s billing schedule is being rolled out alphabetically by county, so residents of Sonoma County should expect to receive the tax notice in late October.

The fee, passed by the state legislature in 2011, has been opposed by many local fire district officials who say that the fee is unnecessary because many of the services the fee is earmarked for are already performed by local fire personnel. There is also the fear that requiring property owners to pay the fee will hurt fundraising efforts by local fire districts.

Monies from the fee would go to Cal-Fire for activities such as defensible space inspections, fire break construction, public education programs on fire prevention, and evacuation planning

The levy must be paid within 30 days of receipt of the bill, or property owners could face fines and penalties.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has challenged the constitutionality of the fee, arguing that the fee is really a tax and thus required two-thirds approval by the legislature. The fee passed with just a simple majority.

A recent decision in July by a Sacramento County superior court judge has allowed the lawsuit to go forward as a class action. State attorneys were trying to get the case tossed.

But the judge also ruled that if the taxpayer’s group is eventually successful in its constitutional challenge, the only people able to receive any refunds would be those who filed a timely appeal. Last fiscal year, only a very small percentage of people filed the proper appeal paperwork – HJTA attorneys estimate only 15,000.

Hearings on the constitutionality of the fee will likely not occur until next year.

For more information about the fire fee and the appeal process, go to For more information about the protests against the fee, go to or

Recently Published:

09/15/2019 - Funky Fridays audience picks three beneficiaries this year
09/15/2019 - NOAA weather radio test successful in Sonoma Valley
09/15/2019 - Members sought for SDC planning team
09/15/2019 - New trails for Hood Park funded
09/15/2019 - Family-friendly Glen Ellen bike trail proposed
09/15/2019 - To infinity and beyond...
09/15/2019 - Ahoy! Yacht club hands out booty to the community
09/15/2019 - Reminder – Some areas at SDC not open to public
09/15/2019 - Jack London Park director moving on
09/15/2019 - Free food available for those in need
09/15/2019 - North Valley MAC coming soon
09/15/2019 - Young male mountain lion collared in Bennett Valley area
09/15/2019 - Design review panel looks at Glen Ellen development
09/01/2019 - New advisory council gets a name, applications coming this month
09/01/2019 - Ecologists concerned with wildfire safety programs
09/01/2019 - Landscape lottery drawing on Sept. 15
09/01/2019 - Mayacamas residents experience first-ever county evacuation drill
09/01/2019 - Funding from PG&E for living expenses
09/01/2019 - Free food available for those in need
09/01/2019 - Fire grant funds work on Cavedale, Trinity roads
09/01/2019 - County to test NOAA weather radios for emergency alert use
09/01/2019 - Small claims lawsuit filed over golf club sale
09/01/2019 - Grants for those in fire impacted communities
09/01/2019 - Forget a siren, get a radio
09/01/2019 - Kenwoodians give feedback on cannabis dispensary

Community Calendar

Emmaus Inclusive Community service and potluck supper
Walk ‘n’ Wag
Oakmont Sunday Symposium
Press Democrat sports editor to speak at SIR #53
Daylong meditation at the Depot
Peter H. Raven Lecture Series featuring Mary Ellen Hannibal
Trees and plant communities walk
Yoga hike
Observatory events
Hike to Deer Camp
Shindig celebrates Sugarloaf 50th anniversary

Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2