After spending $160,000 to rescue two hikers lost in a canyon — one of whom was later charged with drug possession — Orange County officials voted Tuesday to endorse a legislative proposal that would allow cities and counties to try to recover the costs of such operations.
The proposal, approved unanimously by Orange County supervisors, seeks to enable cities and counties to charge for an "extraordinary" search and rescue in cases in which the person was older than 16 and demonstrated "wanton or reckless conduct."
"I don't think that's what taxpayers should have to pay for," county Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.
The proposal stipulates that a person must break the law, have demonstrated reckless conduct and has the ability to pay, he said.
Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine) has agreed to introduce the legislation in Sacramento. "Communities should not be required to forfeit their emergency services funds due to one individual's thoughtless actions," Wagner said in a statement.