Board OKs Attaching Fire Mitigation Fee Assessments to Property Tax Bills

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved the Riverside County Fire Department’s proposal to attach fire mitigation charges to the tax bills of more than 100 property owners, all of whom are designated as delinquent in paying the cost of abating weeds and other potential fire hazards around their parcels.

In a 5-0 vote without comment or public testimony, the board authorized imposing the tax liens on 119 property owners in unincorporated communities countywide, who owe a total $71,856 under the county’s Fire Hazard Reduction Program.

The amounts, which range from $175 to $3,254 per property, stem from activity in 2022.

The reduction program involves deploying contractors to clear weeds and related overgrowth that might otherwise fuel brush fires during wildfire season, which generally spans May to November. In most cases, the parcels that were mitigated were vacant or set off from main residences, according to the fire department.

Officials said property owners were served with orders to abate, or mitigate, the potential fire hazards, and when inspectors received no reply or saw that no action had been taken, contractors were sent to the locations under county authority to clear away the excess foliage.

“The purpose of the Fire Hazard Reduction Program is to reduce or eliminate fire hazards created by vegetative growth and the accumulation of combustible debris, which poses a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the residents in the vicinity of any real property, as well as irreparable harm to sensitive habitat and species,” according to an agency statement.

Properties in each of the five supervisorial districts were identified by the department as delinquent on payments.

According to agency documents, property owners were billed to recover the county’s expenditures, but the fire department received no response. A $254 administrative fee has also been folded into the final bill sent to the proprietors.

The charges will function as tax liens on the properties.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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