County divests emergency services for Chandler Ranch

The County of San Diego has divested County Service Area No. 135 fire and emergency medical services latent powers for Chandler Ranch.

A 5-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote March 22 removed the latent powers from the district which includes the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority (SDCRFA). The area had previously been annexed into the North County Fire Protection District (NCFPD).

Chandler Ranch is off of Conquistador Road in De Luz. In August 2013 a tentative map to create four residential parcels between 20.7 and 24.5 acres, along with a remainder parcel, was approved by the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development Services and included the condition that the area not already part of the NCFPD be annexed into the fire district.

The entire Chandler Ranch property, including land previously within the fire district, totals 110.3 acres. The annexation included Conquistador Road, so the annexation area is listed as 77.58 acres when the road is included and 77.45 acres when only parcels are considered to be annexed.

In 2008 the Board of Supervisors and San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) created the SDCRFA, which initially consisted of the territory served by a volunteer fire department but not within the boundaries of a public agency.

The volunteer fire departments, including the De Luz Volunteer Fire Department which had served Chandler Ranch, retained their autonomy and now work together with the paid firefighters covering those areas.
Instead of creating a separate district for the SDCRFA, which would have required a public vote, LAFCO authorized fire and emergency medical services latent powers within a zone of the county’s special district covering regional communications which covers all of unincorporated San Diego County, and the addition of territory to the SDCRFA includes the addition of latent powers to those zones of CSA No. 135.

In June 2016 the Board of Supervisors approved a property tax exchange resolution which transferred 7 percent of the 1 percent base property tax from the SDCRFA to the NCFPD. (The Fiscal Year 2014-15 property tax payment for the Chandler Ranch land was $5,453.29, so 7 percent of that would equate to $381.73. If the parcels are sold they would be reassessed based on the sale value, and the development of the parcels would add the value of the buildings to the assessed amount. The fire district expects total annual property tax revenue of approximately $3,000.)

In August 2016 LAFCO approved the annexation of the 77 1/2 acres into the NCFPD while detaching that area from the SDCRFA, but that action included the requirement that the Board of Supervisors subsequently authorize the removal of CSA No. 135 latent powers for Chandler Ranch.

In September 2016 the NCFPD board approved an annexation agreement including a $77,450 annexation fee the district will receive immediately and a fee of $500 per residential dwelling unit or $1,000 for a commercial or industrial structure when a building permit is issued. The annexation fee and base property tax revenue will not be sufficient for the fire district to serve the development, so the agreement requires the creation of a Mello-Roos assessment district or similar funding source prior to the county’s approval of the final subdivision map.

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