The California Board of Forestry approved regulations that will begin the implementation of the State Regulated Area Fire Fee. The California State Senate Budget and Fiscal committee approved funding for additional staff for the Board of Equalization in order for the agency to begin collecting the fee.

At its June 5 meeting, the Board approved emergency regulations and a set of draft regulations for public review.

Despite frequent opposition from legislators, including Assemblymen Brian Jones and Kevin Jeffries, no one has been able to stop or repeal this unpopular fee.

The emergency regulations set a fee amount of $150 per habitable structure, which is defined as “a building that contains one or more dwelling units or that can be occupied for residential use. Buildings occupied for residential use include single-family homes, multi-dwelling structures, mobile and manufactured homes, and condominiums. Habitable structures do not include incidental buildings such as detached garages, barns, outdoor sanitation facilities, and sheds.”

For property within local fire districts such as the Idyllwild Fire District, the board has provided a $35 per habitable structure reduction in the fee owed.

The Governor’s 2012-13 budget assumes $50 million in fees would have been collected this fiscal year and another $84 million in fiscal 2012-13.

Eventually a grant program will be established to use some of the fees. Eligible organizations for grants awarded from the Fire Prevention Fund include local agencies, Fire Protection Districts, Fire Safe Councils, the California Conservation Corps, and other organizations accepted by the Board.

Funding for the grants has not been included in the proposed 2012-13 budget.