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Fire board thinks twice, votes to pay once

Board members oppose SRA fees

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:46 am

People don’t want to see their homes go up in flames, but they also don’t want to pay twice for fire protection services either.

Coastside Fire Protection District Board members have consequently decided to act in concert with the Fire Districts Association of California, which has recommended that homeowners challenge State Responsibility Area fees if their properties are already taxed as part of local fire districts.

The contentious SRA fees — intended to fund CalFire services in areas that are generally not served by local fire departments — annually ring up to $150 per habitable structure, and were approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. Supporters say this helps offer fire service in rural areas while helping the state reduce the budget deficit. But many affected homeowners are displeased with the prospect of bearing the burden.

Residents of the old Half Moon Bay fire district already pay a $35 parcel tax, part of which is spent on fire prevention and protection services. People living in the old Point Montara district pay $115. These fees have been in place since before CalFire’s arrival. Dozens of residences on the Coastside, in areas that overlap with designated SRAs, would be assessed an additional state fee.

“No SRA fees will be collected in the district, because that would be taxing people double,” said Director Gary Burke on the adoption of the resolution to oppose the fees.

Although the board decided to join the legislative battle to protect its own residents, it’s unlikely that they’ll be getting involved with the issue on a broad, state level.

“I think that as local elected officials we should focus on what affects our people,” said Burke.

About 100 residences near El Granada sit in both State Responsibility Areas and the local fire district, according to Unit Fire Chief John Ferreira.

To see if your home is in an overlapping district, go to www.firepreventionfee.org/sraviewer.php. To learn how to protest your fees, visit firetaxprotest.org.

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