Equitable, effective street permitting would allow the City of Los Angeles to facilitate key public safety and environmental law enforcement services. In order to achieve this goal, permit fees must recover the costs associated with these services. The FUSE Executive Fellow will collaborate with StreetsLA to update the permit fee schedule and promote City Council’s approval of the updates.
Fellowship Dates: April 22, 2024 – April 21, 2025
Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual 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.
The City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) is home to the Investigation and Enforcement Division (IED). IED aims to deliver world-class municipal safety in enforcement and environmental protection. The Division has 17 investigators who research, process, and enforce permits affecting the use of the Public Right of Way. These include permits for Building Materials, Special Events, Overloads, Water Discharge Tests, News Racks, News Stands, and Entrance Canopies. Along with the processing and issuing of permits, they enforce municipal codes that directly affect the quality of life for the residents in the City of Los Angeles such as Overgrown Vegetation, and the illegal use of gas-powered leafblowers, just to name a few.
IED processes approximately 2,000 permit applications yearly, representing 118 applications per investigator. This volume is too large for investigators to be able to complete an adequate analysis and evaluation for each application. Increased staffing at IED would enable the City to be more responsive to the needs of the community, but associated revenues would need to be able to cover such growth. Unfortunately, the application fee structure has not been updated since the 1990s, limiting IED’s ability to grow its team.
Growing the investigations team and right-sizing the fee schedule will allow StreetsLA to promote more equitable access to a safe, clean environment. Black and Latino neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by illegal dumping, with residential and commercial actors abandoning trash and toxic substances on the streets. In addition, illegal water and gas main construction is more likely to affect low-income residents. Increased enforcement staff and more robust permitting systems would allow StreetsLA to better advocate for BIPOC and low-income neighborhoods, increasing their quality of life.
While the raising of fees does not have a direct benefit for the underserved communities of color, we believe that the fee increase will have an indirect benefit. As we are 100% reliant on the General Fund, the increase in fees will help offset the cost of our Division’s employees’ pay and equipment. This will put us in a better position to hire additional Investigative staff that will be able to assist with Service Requests, most of which directly impact the quality of life in these communities. Additional staff would also allow us to be more responsive in our enforcement of unpermitted work and equipment on the Public Right of Way. Unpermitted work may pose a danger to the public as they often ignore safety conditions that would have been imposed if the person doing the work had received a legitimate permit.
The City of Los Angeles will partner with FUSE Corps to update the StreetsLA permit fee schedule. The FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct extensive cost recovery analysis to right-size the fees for IED permits, ensuring that the income StreetsLA receives from the applications accurately reflects the costs associated with evaluating, processing, and enforcing the conditions of the permit. In addition, the Executive Fellow will develop strong justifications and materials for IED staff to use in advocating for the City Council’s approval of the fee increase. As a result of this work, IED will be better equipped to ensure effective, equitable implementation of public safety and environmental protection laws.
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 Executive Fellow will forge relationships with StreetsLA Leadership, management, and frontline workers; neighborhood councils; the Board of Public Works; and members of the public. The Executive Fellow will gain an understanding of how IED permits and their fees impact residents, businesses, public safety, and environmental enforcement. In addition, the Executive Fellow will conduct extensive desk research to understand best practices for equitable, effective cost recovery and street permitting in large, diverse cities like Los Angeles.
Next, the Executive Fellow will lead the revision of IED’s fee schedule, starting with the highest priority permits. The updated fees should generate sufficient funding for IED to cover the costs associated with assessing and enforcing permits and hiring additional investigators. In addition, the fees should align with municipal best practices (e.g., cost per day, institutional or commercial vs. residential permits) for equitable street permitting.
Finally, the Executive Fellow will develop materials to empower StreetsLA and IED staff to advance the City Council’s approval of the new fees. These materials should include strong justifications of the new fees, making the business, political, and equity case for the changes. Since an increase in fees may be perceived as anti-business or unfriendly to residents, it is critical that IED demonstrates the improved quality of services and experience that residents can expect as a result of the fee increase because the fees will cover the permit-related services to be provided. The Executive Fellow may work with key stakeholders (e.g., the Board of Public Works and neighborhood councils) to gain additional input and insights that strengthen the argument for the fee increases.
By April 2025, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
- Conduct a Listening Tour – Build relationships with stakeholders in the City’s street permit investigation and enforcement work to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that will shape the approach to this work. Conduct a best practices literature review, including inquiring with other cities.
- Revise Fee Schedule – Conduct extensive cost recovery analysis to develop new fee recommendations that generate sufficient cost recovery and align with best practices.
- Develop Justifications and Advocacy Materials – Equip StreetsLA and IED staff with the arguments, materials, and stakeholder buy-in necessary to assist with obtaining City Council approval of the increased fees.
- Executive Sponsor – Ana Tabuena-Ruddy, Assistant Director & Chief Sustainability Officer; StreetsLA
- Project Supervisor – Manny Perez, Assistant Chief Investigator; StreetsLA
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in public administration and cost recovery 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.
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.