My Turn: We are opposed to California’s new fire fee |

My Turn: We are opposed to California’s new fire fee

Peter N. Poe and John B. Pang
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; We are writing to express the opposition of our districts to the new fee being charged by the state of California to those who own structures within State Responsibility Areas.

SRA are rural areas where the state fire department, Calfire, has the lead responsibility for wildland fire protection. SRA within our districts is extensive. Affected property owners will be charged $150 per year. They will receive a $35 and#8220;discountand#8221; if they are within a local district. The state will begin mailing invoices next month.

This new fee comes just as the state has directed Calfire to remove its two engines and crews from Lake Tahoe. These resources have been in place since 2008, one year after the devastating Angora and Washoe fires in 2007.

The new fee will generate significant revenue, but the state’s new plan reduces Calfire at Tahoe to one area chief and four defensible space inspectors. From our perspective, it is fundamentally wrong to charge people more for a service while at the same time reducing that level of service.

When fire breaks out, our equipment and personnel respond, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is our job to protect the lives and property of the residents and visitors we serve and protect the unique watershed values of the Tahoe Basin.

The state is abdicating its responsibility while at the same time extracting revenues from the same property owners we serve. This action jeopardizes our ability to ask local voters to support new revenues for increased levels of service. Any local proposal would require a two-thirds vote. The state legislature passed this new tax with a simple majority.

What the state is doing is nothing more than bad public policy. It will not contribute to increased public safety.

Peter N. Poe is acting chief of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District; John B. Pang is chief of the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District.

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