As a result of our rapidly changing climate, California has experienced the deadliest, largest, and most destructive wildfires in its history.
In the past five years, we’ve had nine of the 20 most destructive fires the state has ever had, including the Camp Fire in Butte in 2018, the Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma in 2017, the Carr Fire in Shasta & Trinity in 2018, and the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura in 2017.
Our annual fire season has become a year-round concern. Our fires are now hotter, larger, and burn longer.
Our emergency response systems are underfunded and have been stretched to their limit. Due to a lack of resources and equipment, the number of mutual aid requests that cannot be fulfilled is growing rapidly. We’re using funding designated to manage forests to put out fires, literally.
Over the last two years, 21 counties have appealed to voters to raise taxes to fund firefighting, but these require a two-thirds majority and are difficult to pass.
Prop 15—Schools & Communities First is part of the solution we need
Proposition 15— the California Schools & Local Communities Funding Act would reclaim an estimated $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by closing commercial property tax loopholes that corporations and wealthy investors use to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes.
Cities, counties and special districts will get up to $7 billion each year, with schools and community colleges getting the remaining 40 percent. The local government share of the revenues can be used to increase fire protection services provided by cities and counties. In addition, there are many special districts across the state established for fire protection purposes. Prop 15 will provide funding directly to them.
When Prop 15 is fully implemented, research shows that 26 counties will receive at least $390 million in new revenue that will go directly to fire special districts, in addition to the billions to cities and counties which directly provide fire service.
There are another 30 counties for which we do not have data; many of these have fire special districts that will benefit from new revenues. This means that Prop 15 is a major source of new funding for fire protection services so desperately needed across the state now.
In a 28-county analysis conducted by Blue Sky Consulting in July 2020, the 26 counties listed here were found to have special districts established for the purpose of fire protection services.