Litigation to nullify the $150 state fire fee was filed Thursday. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed the class action suit in Superior Court in Sacramento alleging the fee is really a tax and as a tax, the state Legislature did not legally approve it.
Plaintiffs include a resident of the desert, a fire station classed by assessment as a habitable structure, and a property owner who is a neighbor to both a resort property and a conference center. All three properties were assessed the same fee.
“The are a lot of inequities in the way the Fire Prevention fee will be applied,” said Timothy Bittle, attorney with HJTA. “Many of these properties have never been inspected even for adequate defensible space.”
The objective of the litigation is to invalidate the fee because proponents allege it is really a tax, which requires a two-thirds vote of both the California State Senate and Assembly. If the litigation is successful, nearly 825,000 homeowners, including many on the Hill, could be eligible for refunds.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Janet Upton, estimated fee collections for 2012-13 would be between $84 and $88 million.
None of the plaintiffs in the HJTA lawsuit was a Riverside County resident.