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Portantino and Jeffries Introduce Bill to Provide Tax Exemptions for Individuals and Communities Victimized by the Station Fire

Assemblymembers Anthony J. Portantino (D- La Cañada Flintridge) and Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1662 today. The legislation is aimed at providing assistance to the victims of the Station Fire, which charred more than 160,000 acres and destroyed homes in and around the Angeles National Forest last year.

"The people who lost their homes to the Station Fire have suffered enough. The least the state can do is ensure they are not victimized by this fire twice by requiring them to pay full property taxes on homes that are no longer standing," said Portantino. "As a resident of La Cañada Flintridge whose home was only a few blocks outside the evacuation zone, I've seen first hand the effects of this fire and the need for assistance left in its wake. AB 1662 is a key component of restoring the communities impacted by the Station Fire to the lives they had before the blaze."

AB 1662 will provide disaster relief for the victims of the 2009 Station Fire by providing property tax exemptions to homeowner's who were forced to rebuild or repair their home as a result of the fire. The measure will also allow taxpayers to deduct the losses they suffered that were not covered by their insurance. Additionally, the measure ensures local communities will have the resources to recover by providing state reimbursements for local property tax losses caused by the fire.

"While there is a process that already exists for reassessing property values on homes that have been lost in a fire, that process does not move nearly as quickly as the fire that destroyed the home in the first place, and this bill will help ensure that fire victims get immediate property tax relief," said Assemblyman Jeffries. "My district has suffered huge losses in previous wildfires, and hounding fire victims for property taxes on homes that no longer exist just adds insult to injury at a time when they need every dollar at their disposal to help rebuild their lives."

In order to ensure residents and communities will benefit from its provisions as soon as possible AB 1662 contains an urgency clause which will allow it to become law as soon as it is signed by the Governor. Without the provision the new law wouldn't take effect until January 1, 2011.

"Property owners should not be penalized when a natural disaster strikes," added Portantino. "The state owes it to its residents and local governments to provide as much relief as possible when a disaster occurs, and that obligation certainly isn't extinguished when the fire is."

An identical measure, AB8X 31, was also introduced by Portantino and Jeffries in the 8th Extraordinary Session. Portantino and Jeffries say they will advance whichever bill can provide relief to fire victims most quickly.


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