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Calif. wildland residents to be charged for fire protection

July 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Californians who depend on the state for protection from fires are going to have to starting paying for the service.

The plan signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will charge property owners $150 per year. It's unclear when the fee will go into effect. A lawsuit is expected to be filed against it.

Due to the rising cost of fighting fires in wild land areas and the lack of revenue across the state, all residents in areas covered by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection are going to have to open their checkbooks soon - and most are not happy about it.

"We're being charged additional fees for things essentially we've already paid for," said Lake Arrowhead resident Tom Przybylowicz.

Brown cited the state budget as his motivation for backing the idea.

"Establishing a fire protection and prevention fee in state responsibility areas will reduce general fund costs and ensure property owners in developed wild land areas pay for a portion of the fire and emergency response services they receive," he said.

Supervisor Bob Buster in Riverside County said he knows that as more people move into fire-prone areas, costs are going to go up. However, he said he doesn't think current residents should be charged for it.

"I think it's the wrong thing to do, to impose this kind of substantial fee on homeowners and residents now at the depth of the recession, particularly in Riverside County when there's so much unemployment and so many foreclosures," he said.

In Lake Arrowhead, people are resigned to the fact that firefighting costs are going up.

"There's really nothing we can do. Even though we're against it, for it, you just have to roll with the punches," said Ginger Crilley of Lake Arrowhead.


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