California To Pay for Wildfire Retrofits Up To $40,000.00 per Home
The State of California recently launched the California Wildfire Mitigation Program, a $100-million pilot program in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to pay for home retrofits in high-fire areas. San Diego County is the first county where the new initiative will start. Here, up to $40,000.00 per home will be available across 500 backcountry residences. Eligible work includes trimming or clearing vegetation around the home, upgrading to ember- or flame-resistant roofing, siding or vents, and other retrofits.
“Houses are accelerants, but if you do the work — defensible space, building codes — you can minimize the acceleration that a subdivision can generate when a wildfire comes screaming over the ridgeline,” said Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College who has written extensively about wildfires.
A recent study from UC San Diego found that homes built after the state’s wildfire building codes went into effect were significantly less likely to be destroyed in a large blaze. In San Diego County, roughly 88% of the population and around 1 million homes are exposed to some wildfire hazard, according to a 2018 county report. That includes almost 78,000 homes in high to extreme fire hazard areas.
“We’re not here to push this down anybody’s throat, but at the same time, we think it’s a high-value program,” County Fire Deputy Chief Dave Nissen said. “We just want to take the time to make sure people are making a well-informed decision, whether they want to be a part of this or not.”
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, chose the communities of Dulzura, Potrero, and Campo based largely on their concentration of low-income residents living in older, fire-prone homes. Residents of Dulzura, in rural southeastern San Diego County, will be the first eligible, followed by nearby Potrero and Campo residents in 2023 and 2024. Click here if you are eligible and in need of such funds and wish to apply to the California Wildfire Mitigation Program.