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Supervisors seek tax relief for fire sprinkler system installation


Last updated 11/24/2006 at Noon

Under the current interpretation of the state’s Revenue and Taxation Code, the taxable assessed value for a home expansion includes the cost of fire sprinkler systems. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors urges the new California legislature to amend property tax laws by exempting sprinkler systems from the value of new construction.

A 5-0 vote November 14 directs the county’s Chief Administrative Officer to draft a letter for Chairman Bill Horn’s signature to the county’s delegation in the state legislature urging an amendment to exempt sprinkler systems from being assessed in the value of new construction. The motion also authorized the county’s Sacramento lobbyist to advocate the county’s position and seek a sponsor for legislation to create the exemption.

“I’d like to encourage homeowners to install residential fire sprinkler systems,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “There is an oversight in the California Revenue and Taxation code which penalizes individuals.”

Slater’s Third Supervisorial District includes Scripps Ranch and Tierrasanta, and hundreds of her constituents lost their homes in the October 2003 Cedar Fire. If a house is rebuilt following a calamity, the portion of the house equivalent to the dwelling in existence prior to the calamity is considered “existing structure” and is assessed under the pre-calamity rate. No additional assessment is made for installing fire sprinklers in that portion of the rebuilt home regardless of whether sprinklers were in existence before the disaster. If a homeowner places fire suppression sprinklers in an existing dwelling the sprinklers are exempt from reassessment.

However, fire sprinkers are included in the value of new construction which is subject to assessment at a new rate. “We think this is the wrong way to encourage good behavior,” Slater-Price said.

County Assessor Greg Smith has indicated his support for the change and has noted that administering an amended law would not create problems for his office.


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