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FUSE Executive Fellow - LA Urban Forestry

Fuse Corps

Fuse Corps

Los Angeles County, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2023

Trees are vital to enhancing the quality of life and well-being in urban areas. Recognizing their importance, the City of Los Angeles is seeking to revise its fee schedule to better support and expand urban tree coverage. To address this, the FUSE Executive Fellow is tasked with modernizing and aligning it to more closely with the economic and environmental considerations involved in tree removal and protection, ensuring a greener, healthier urban environment for all.

Fellowship Dates: April 22, 2024 – April 21, 2025

Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Trees have numerous benefits for cities. These include making the community more appealing, carbon capture, reducing pollution, cooling effects, and more. These positive effects can result in significant financial, quality of life, and well-being benefits for city residents.

In the City of Los Angeles, the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) of the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) manages more than 700,000 trees along 6,500 miles of public roads. This is the largest municipal urban forest in the nation. When property owners and developers seek permits for construction projects, UFD often becomes involved if existing trees would be affected by the project. Before the City issues permits, UFD typically has to assess the impact on trees and approve the developer’s plans.

UFD charges fees for some, but not all, services related to handling these approvals. The current fee schedule is more than 25 years old. It no longer reflects the actual financial cost incurred by UFD during these approvals. It also fails to reflect the environmental and well-being costs of removing trees, and the fee structure doesn’t incentivize developers to prioritize tree preservation early in their project design process.

UFD cannot, however, unilaterally increase its fees. Changes in current fees and the addition of new fees either need to be justified by the Los Angeles Municipal Code, or changes to the Municipal Code need to be proposed to update the fee schedule.

The City of Los Angeles will partner with FUSE to evaluate and update UFD’s schedule of fees to capture the true value of UFD’s work and trees to the City. The FUSE Executive Fellow will assess the cost of services UFD provides and the value trees bring to the City. The project will ensure that UFD can support a thriving urban forest that improves the health and well-being of city residents.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Starting in April 2024, the FUSE Executive Fellow will lead the process of updating UFD’s schedule of fees to properly reflect the cost of services and the impact of trees on Los Angeles residents’ well-being and quality of life. This process will include collecting input and data from key stakeholders, including UFD managers and staff, managers of other City of Los Angeles agencies that UFD frequently collaborates with, and community stakeholders.

The FUSE Executive Fellow will collect and analyze financial and environmental data to assess the overall fee schedule and develop a new proposed schedule that reflects the value and impact of trees and UFD’s work in Los Angeles.

By April 2025, the FUSE Executive Fellow will have developed and socialized the framework for an updated schedule of fees. This work will include the following:

  • For existing fees, determine the true cost of staff time and expenses that the City of Los Angeles incurs when UFD reviews plans, conducts tree assessments on site, and interacts with public stakeholders and other city staff during permitting processes.
  • In collaboration with UFD managers, consider additional services that UFD provides but does not charge fees for and calculate the actual costs of those services.
  • Consider services currently not provided by UFD but necessary to review and assess plans and site inspections and calculate costs. (such as expedited fees, initial and final inspection fees, weekend and holiday inspections, and board report fees.)
  • Evaluate the true cost of tree removal, including health, climate, economic and quality of life effects on Los Angeles residents.
  • Evaluate assessment of monetary penalties (fines) for violations of unpermitted tree removal and/or improper pruning that may cause a tree(s) to fail or die. The fines must be severe enough to discourage anyone from the thought of removing or severely pruning a tree(s). Currently, the LAMC does not allow UFD to assess any monetary fine for tree violations

The FUSE Executive Fellow will also need to evaluate the existing municipal code to understand how and if it supports higher fees and then propose changes to the code to support new fees. The FUSE Executive Fellow will frame the new fee schedule regarding the value it provides Los Angeles residents. Other city priorities, such as a focus on affordable housing, should also be considered.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Ana Tabuena-Ruddy, Assistant Director & Chief Sustainability Officer; Department of Public Works Bureau of Streets Services (StreetsLA)
  • Project Supervisor – Bryan Ramirez, Street Tree Superintendent I; Department of Public Works Bureau of Streets Services (StreetsLA)

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in environmental science and/or municipal law is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision-making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
  • Background in environmental economics

FUSE is an equal-opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.