The fires out West are getting hotter, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association thinks rural residents in California are bearing too much of the burden for fighting them. The group announced Thursday that it is suing to end a $150 annual state fire fee imposed on California's rural residents and want to obtain refunds for those who have already paid the fee. Kevin Yamamura of the The Sacramento Bee reports that the group brought suit in a Sacramento Superior Court alleging that that the $150 annual fee, which the state began collecting in August, "amounts to a tax that was illegally approved without the necessary two-thirds majority of lawmakers." The tax applies to 825,000 rural homeowners.
Gov. Jerry Brown argues that it is legitimate to ask rural residents to pay higher costs for fire prevention in the wake of larger developments on once-rural lands that face greater wildfire risks. "This is putting a huge stress and strain and fear on rural property owners," Jarvis group President Jon Coupal said. Cal Fire spokeswoman Janet Upton said her organization thinks "it's unfortunate that (the Jarvis group) is trying to obstruct funding that we need for fire prevention. We strongly feel that prevention activities funded by the fee save lives and property." (Read more)