State Law Enacted to Offer More Support to Homeowners with Property Damaged or Destroyed by Wildfires
California passed a law expanding support for Californians whose properties have been damaged or destroyed by wildfires by giving them three additional years to rebuild before a full reassessment of their property value is triggered. The Bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 8, 2023, covers properties destroyed or damaged in the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
“Malibu is still recovering from the devastating 2018 Woolsey Fire, the worst natural disaster in the City’s history, and AB 1500 will offer substantial help and additional time to help property owners whose homes were damaged or destroyed to get through the rebuilding process,” said Major Steve Uhring. “I am grateful for the hard work and leadership of our State lawmakers and Governor who fought to get this protection for fire survivors.”
Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (District 42, Thousand Oaks), whose District includes Malibu, co-authored the Bill with Assemblymember James Gallagher (District 3, Yuba City), and the City of Malibu initiated the legislation.
“Californians who have had their homes significantly damaged or destroyed by wildfires should not be made to suffer more as a result of circumstances outside their control,” said Assemblymember Irwin. “Assembly Bill 1500 provides victims of the Woolsey and Camp fires with the additional time needed to complete reconstruction and retain their base-year property tax values. Today I join with the residents of the cities of Malibu and Paradise in thanking the Governor for signing this legislation into law so the rebuilding of our communities can continue.”
Existing law allowed Californians whose property was damaged or destroyed by a disaster to apply the base-year value of that property to the home or structure rebuilt on the same site within five years after the disaster, if the rebuilt property is comparable to the damaged or destroyed property. This extension, specifically for the reconstruction of properties damaged or destroyed in wildfires, will help homeowners who are struggling with permitting and construction delays.
Reconstructing a home or business property destroyed by a disaster such as a wildfire is difficult and time consuming: debris and dead trees must be cleared, building and other permits acquired, contractors and other construction workers hired, materials purchased, and construction completed. Disaster victims unaccustomed to completing these tasks are further burdened as each seeks to procure labor and materials in the same market, squeezing prices and causing construction delays.
Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, owners of these homes were even further hampered in their ability to rebuild. For residents of Malibu, the courts were less capable of processing the claims on liability for the Woolsey Fire and to come to a settlement with Southern California Edison, delaying compensation to residents, many of whom were depending on that compensation to rebuild. Additionally, construction was materially hindered by the pandemic and supply chain shortages, preventing many from being able to rebuild within the five-year window.
Malibu homeowners who are working on Woolsey Fire rebuild projects and need assistance or information related to the protections that AB 1500 offers can contact the Fire Rebuild Team at 310-456-2489 or email email@example.com.
See the full text of the Bill.