Neighborhood Chipping Reimbursement Program

Summer/Fall 2023 Applications [Opening August 1]


Early-bird applications open July 25th for eligible Santa Cruz County FireWise USA recognized communities. Password will be made available through the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County FireWise USA program.

General applications open August 1st for all other eligible Santa Cruz County neighborhoods.

Applications close October 31, 2023 and all chipping and reimbursement forms MUST be completed and submitted by October 31, 2023.

What is the program?

Neighborhoods with a minimum of eight participating households who clear defensible space around their homes are eligible for reimbursement of chipping costs up to $250 per property and $80 per 500 linear feet of private road. Reimbursements can not exceed the cost of chipping services and do not include the cost of clearing work or participants' time. Any contractors hired to chip must be California licensed contractors. There is a $10K reimbursement maximum per neighborhood.

NOTE: We have recently modified this program such that the costs of fueling a rented chipper and of renting a vehicle to tow a rented chipper are now eligible for reimbursement.

Who is eligible?

Reimbursements for chipping services are available to Santa Cruz County residential neighborhoods who have eight or more participating households that are within the Wildland Urban Interface and the RCD Chipping Program boundaries (see map below). Residents who reside within the service areas of the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council or South Skyline Fire Safe Council are not currently eligible and should sign up for chipping services through their respective Fire Safe Council.

Property owners impacted by the CZU Fire who lost their home may participate in the program if:

  1. Your new home will be rebuilt before the end of the current fire season OR
  2. You are currently living on the property in a temporary dwelling (mobile home, RV, etc) as your primary residence and will be there through the current fire season OR
  3. Vegetation on your property is within 100 feet of a neighbor’s occupied home.

How does the program work?

Reimbursement may only be applied to the chipping of materials that originated within 100 feet of an occupied structure or within 10 feet on either side of a private road. Visit the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County to learn more about how to effectively create defensible space.

There MUST be at least eight (8) participating properties. One neighborhood representative will complete the online application to reserve the funds and receive the reimbursment payment for the group. Please include all participants' names and contact information in the application. Once confirmed, you can hire a California licensed contractor or rent a chipper. All work MUST be completed, and reimbursement forms and receipts submitted, within 30 days of application submittal AND no later than October 31, 2023. If the chipping or the reimbursement form is not completed and submitted to the RCD within 30 days of your application, the neighborhood will not be eligible for reimbursement and funds will be made available to another applicant on the waiting list. NO LATE REIMBURSMENT FORMS CAN BE ACCEPTED.

Grant funds for this program are dependent on in-kind contributions from landowners in the form of time spent clearing vegetation for defensible space, preparing piles and organizing chipping. Neighborhoods should keep track of their time and submit it with their reimbursement form.

How do we apply and get reimbursed?

Applications are first-come first-serve, and spots are limited. Be sure to coordinate with your neighborhood and schedule a California licensed contractor to come and chip your material before signing up to ensure you do not miss the 30-day window.

STEP 1: A Private Road Association or an individual representing your neighborhood (of at least 8 households) will submit one (1) Application for the Neighborhood Chipping Reimbursement Program. Once confirmation of your application is made, chipping must be completed, and the reimbursement forms (Step 2) submitted within 30 days.

STEP 2: You have 30 days from when you apply (and no later than October 31st) to submit the online Reimbursement Packet. The reimbursement check will be sent to the association or the individual who submits the reimbursement packet, and it is up to them to distribute funds accordingly.

The RCD will reimburse your neighborhood up to $250.00 of eligible costs per household participating and up to $80.00 per 500 linear feet of private road vegetation chipped. These amounts represent a reimbursement ceiling. Reimbursement CAN NOT exceed the demonstrable, receipted cost of chipping and participants cannot be reimbursed for their time. Reimbursement amounts may also not exceed $10,000. Reimbursements will not be accepted for public roads.

The Reimbursement Packet consists of:

  1. A completed Reimbursement Request Form (link to form found in group leaders registration email confirmation)
  2. One set of before and after photos
  3. In-kind hours or dollars spent preparing for chipping (clearning, hiring contractor, etc)
  4. A receipt from a Licensed Contractor. Reimbursment can not exceed the cost of chipping. Receipt must include dates of service and an itemized list of type of work and associated cost completed with chipping listed as a service. The RCD can only reimburse for chipping. No clearing or other preparation work is covered.
  5. Attach at least one photo of the chipping work.

If your neighborhood is unable to complete the chipping or fails to submit the Reimbursement Packet within 30 days of applying and before October 31st you will NOT be eligible for reimbursement and your spot will be available to the next neighborhood applicant.

Chipping MUST occur between July 15th and October 31st. Following this date, no neighborhoods will be eligible for reimbursement. Late applications will NOT be accepted. Reimbursement is designed to incentivize landowners to maintain their defensible space, and therefore may not cover the entire cost to chip each household's vegetative material.

RCD Chipping Program Boundary (Wildland Urban Interface) Map

To locate your property, type your address in the search box on the upper right-hand section of the map and choose your address from the options given OR hit the search button (magnifying glass). This will zoom the map to your property. Alternately, using your mouse and the plus or minus buttons on the upper left, navigate and zoom into your property location. Click on the colored region where your property is located to make sure you are eligible for the RCD's program. Links are provided directly to other local programs where available.

You can use zoom in/ out tools in the left corner of the map to adjust the map scale.

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