SCRIPPS RANCH (KGTV): At the top of a trail along Semillon Boulevard and Pomerado Road, right next to a sign that reads, "No Dumping - $1000 fine," sits a giant pile of wood chips.
It's been there for years, growing and shrinking in size. But right now, people who live nearby say it's as big as they can remember.
"Yeah, it is a little larger than normal," says Douglas Burns, who lives in a home next to the pile.
The wood chips are from trees cut down by maintenance workers in the area. The work is part of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association's maintenance contract with the city. The workers take the leaves to the dump but leave the wood chips behind.
Bob Ilko, the President of the SRCA, says it saves money on beautification projects. He says the city doesn't have to pay to haul the wood chips and tree pieces away or buy fresh mulch when they need it for landscaping.
The wood chips are used to help with weed control and ground cover across Scripps Ranch.
"It's natural here, it's generated here, it stays here," says Ilko, adding that there's also an environmental benefit since it keeps all the wood chips out of city landfills.
Ilko says the pile is larger than usual right now, but that's because crews have been hard at work clearing away dead and dying trees from the area.
And while the wood chips are on city-owned land, that does not mean they're available to the general public.
"It's city property," says Ilko. "If people take them, it defeats the purpose of keeping the wood chips here to save money."
He also says contractors are not allowed to use the area to dump their wood chips.
When asked if the pile presents a fire hazard, Ilko told 10News the Fire Department has been out to inspect the area, and they say there is no danger of any spontaneous combustion.
"It's not mulch, it doesn't heat up and break down like manure or mulch," says Ilko.