The Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized the Riverside County Fire Department to attach fire mitigation charges to the tax bills of nearly 200 property owners that have not paid the cost of abating weeds and other potential fire hazards around their parcels.
The board’s 5-0 vote came after a brief hearing to determine whether the owners of 191 lots in communities countywide should pay a total $83,866 assessed under the county’s Fire Hazard Reduction Program.
The total amount due on the 2018-19 fiscal year delinquent list is roughly 60% less than in 2017-18.
No one appeared before the board to dispute an assessment.
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.
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 in 30 days, landscaping contractors were sent to the locations under fire department authority to clear away the excess foliage.
“The Fire Hazard Reduction Program is designed to protect life, property and the environment,” according to an agency statement. “Each parcel owner is provided the opportunity to abate the property prior to the county conducting the abatement.”
Properties in each of the five supervisorial districts were identified in a fire department report submitted to the board.
According to agency documents, property owners were billed to recover the county’s expenditures, which ranged from $389 to $1,199 per property. A $254 administrative fee was also folded into the final bill sent to the property owners.
Those who received notices but didn’t respond are the parties from whom the fire department is seeking payment.
The mitigation fees are now liens on the affected properties.