No Fees for S.B. County Fire Victims

Times Staff Writer

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to retroactively waive the permit fees charged to property owners who wanted to rebuild homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed in last year’s wildfires.

The Old and Grand Prix fires that swept through the region last October destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses, mostly in the San Bernardino Mountains and foothills. The county has already received about 250 applications to rebuild fire-damaged structures, according to county officials.

The board’s action allows a refund for property owners who have already paid the county’s building and permit fees. The waiver applies only to the county’s unincorporated area.


The waiver also applies only to plans to rebuild homes with the same square footage as the home lost in the fires. Property owners who want to replace a damaged home with a larger structure will pay a fee based on the extra space added to the project.

County building officials came to the board meeting Tuesday with a plan to waive permit fees only for “hardship cases,” defined as property owners who had no insurance or not enough insurance to rebuild. The county staff had also suggested that the hardship waiver apply only to a property owner’s primary residence.

Under the hardship waiver plan, officials estimated the county could lose more than $290,000 in permit fees.

Instead, the board voted to waive all building fees for property owners who want to replace structures damaged or destroyed in the fire, regardless of whether the buildings were insured or were vacation properties.

Supervisor Paul Biane, a former real estate agent, moved to expand the waiver.