At a press conference under the buzz and whine of the Red Bull planes at a park on San Diego Bay, Mayor Jerry Sanders and local Assemblyman George Plescia announced a new bill aimed at giving tax credits to homeowners who help make their properties more fire-resistant.

The bill, AB1912, just introduced by Plescia, would offer a 15-percent tax credit to homeowners anywhere in the state who install wildfire risk reduction improvements on their property.

I asked Plescia if that means a homeowner can just put a fire extinguisher in their house and claim a 15-percent tax credit. He said no. Plescia said the bill lays out guidelines for what does and does not constitute “wildfire risk reduction improvement.”

I took a look at the guidelines. They seem pretty broad. Here’s what the bill says:

(b) For the purposes of this section, “wildfire risk reduction improvement” means a modification to existing property that reduces the vulnerability to a wildfire, including, but not limited to, replacement of less fire-resistive materials with fire-resistive or noncombustible roofing material, siding or walls, decking materials, and windows as well as improvements that create boxed eaves, louvered attic vents and other modifications that reduce or remove the opportunity for wind blown embers to penetrate into vulnerable areas of a structure.

I asked Plescia after the news conference if he thinks his bill has much of a chance of getting through, considering the estimated $20 billion hole the state is in, according to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“It’s going to be tough,” Plescia said. “But I think we have some great arguments here.”

I also asked him why he didn’t just write a bill that forces homeowners to update their fire protection, rather than writing one that induces them to do it through a tax credit.

“I don’t think you can be penalizing to homeowners, I’ve always been in support of providing incentives instead,” Plescia said.

Well, I’m off to buy a fire extinguisher, just in case.


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