My Turn: Please leave my property tax alone | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Please leave my property tax alone

J.S. Grandfield

I recently attended the Placer County/Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Community Enhancement Program (CEP) meeting in Kings Beach. I was completely astounded and outraged by some of the information that was presented by TRPA and Placer staff.

Put simply, “It’s happening again,” and less than a month after the concerned citizens in Tahoe-Truckee voted to give the big developers an elite medical facility so they can entice ever more of their elite clientele to buy what they’re selling ” our natural resources, our time and our quality of life.

The essence of the CEP is, once more, the local taxpayer subsidizing what amounts to public endowments to the wealthy in the form of large developers and development in Kings Beach. And, unbelievably, as an added bonus, if the developers complete an EIP (TRPA’s Environmental Improvement Program) project “or a substantial portion thereof” they are given additional tourist accommodation units (TAUs) and/or an additional level or two to the height of their buildings.

So, by doing something to improve the environment they will be allowed to bring more people into the Basin, and too many people spell death for our local environment. At best, this situation is a wash, and good, hard-working people are expected to pay for it. I predict that next year we will be asked to vote on a bond to carry out this new CEP.

Now, we are facing yet another property tax assessment for fuels reduction treatments and 50-115 percent increases in our public utility rates. That will mean that in the span of approximately one year my property tax will have increased by 30-40 percent and my utilities by over 50 percent with no guarantee that these costs won’t continue increasing each year for 30 years to come.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely in favor of fuels reduction treatment. In fact, as a local environmental agency employee, I have worked a lot of overtime since the Angora Fire on precisely this issue. I am also involved with the biomass initiative, which involves fuels reduction for the Basin.

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But, this is a matter of individual responsibility first. I BMP’d and defensible spaced my property ages ago and have no doubt that it would likely be spared anything but the most vicious of fires like the Angora Fire. I have seen and worked in the midst of the devastation of the Angora Fire. In general, the areas that had been treated for fuels reduction, the homes of responsible property owners, and the stream environment zones (SEZs) received less impact than the rest of the area.

In fact, private vacant parcels and larger private properties are often the most neglected when it comes to fire hazard and those parcels will pay no property tax? Indeed, over 40 percent of the available woody biomass in the Basin is on these private, vacant, untreated parcels.

We are being taxed to get work done that we, as individuals, should be doing ourselves and we have millionaires and billionaires in the Basin who expect someone else to protect their homes from fire. Besides, we live in montane forests and they burn. Did you not realize that when you moved here? Again, the poor subsidizing the rich.

This latest proposed property tax assessment, the CEP, and whatever else the bureaucrats/developers can come up with is another thinly veiled attempt by our local officials to get us ” primarily the local, middle-class, working community ” to pay to bring in more tourists, more homebuyers (customers all), and more money for the local governments and developers.

Remember, all this development requires a beefed-up local infrastructure and the hard-working taxpayers are going to pick up the check. I don’t want more tourists and development. The lake can’t handle more tourists and development, therefore, I don’t want to pay for all this insanity. Leave my property taxes alone!

Bottom line, as fire protection goes, why not try public outreach to get folks to do what they should have already done to protect their property before you start taxing the rest of us.