A large swath of central Cameron Park would be exempted from the State Fire Prevention Fee starting in 2014 under changes proposed by the local Cal Fire unit. Financial responsibility for wildland fire prevention and suppression would transition from the state to local fire agencies for thousands of parcels in Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills and Rancho Murieta.
Maps outlining the changes were created by members of Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado Unit in Camino, and must now be approved at region, state, director and board level by July 1 to be effective for the 2014 fire fee billing.
The $150 fee is assessed annually on habitable structures in State Responsibility Areas, where the state bears financial responsibility for wildland fire prevention and suppression. The fee is reduced to $115 if the parcel is located in a local fire district.
Like the estimated 1,300 El Dorado Hills parcels described in the Mountain Democrat on March 13, areas of Rancho Murieta and Cameron Park were identified for a focused review based on phone calls and letters protesting the State Fire Prevention Fee.
The 2013 review “identifies errors and inconsistencies,” in the 2010 State Responsibility Area Maps, said Amador-El Dorado Unit Forester and Division Chief Tom Tinsley.
In Cameron Park, the majority of the parcels in question are located in a large triangle loosely bounded to the south by Country Club Drive and to the east by Cameron Park Drive. The area extends north to the airport, stopping just shy of Royal Park Drive, and west to Knollwood Drive.
Several outlying SRA neighborhoods are included in the proposed maps.
South of Highway 50, the Cambridge Oaks subdivision, located off Crazy Horse Drive, would transition to Local Area Responsibility, as would the core commercial areas off Cameron Park Drive, including Rodeo Road, Coach Lane, Robyn Lane and Saratoga Lane.
To the north, the proposed changes affect the commercial areas around the Bel Air Shopping Center, including the Ponte Palmero senior living campus and the Marshall Medical complex, plus Cameron Valley Estates, located off Mira Loma Drive, Silver Springs, east of Bass Lake Road, and Highland Unit 1, 2 & 3, east of Hastings Drive, north of Green Valley Road.
The Cameron Park map changes affect three local fire agencies: Cameron Park Fire, El Dorado County Fire and Rescue Fire. All three districts have approved the proposed map changes, which make them technically responsible for wildland fire prevention and suppression.
In practice, California’s tight mutual aid policy has historically precluded agencies from billing each other for support on large fires.
“Cal Fire considers the entire west slope a threat zone to the State Responsibility Area,” said Acting Chief Michael Hardy of the El Dorado County Fire District, which has responsibility for the Cambridge Oaks neighborhood. “They always respond, so it’s really not much of a fiduciary risk to the district, and it saves those residents $115 a year.”