The City of Los Angeles is embarking on a project in collaboration with FUSE to evaluate and update the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) fee schedule within the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services. With the management of over 700,000 trees along 6,500 miles of public roads, the UFD oversees the largest municipal urban forest in the nation. The existing fee schedule, which is more than 25 years old, does not accurately reflect the financial costs incurred by UFD in reviewing construction project permits, nor does it consider the environmental and well-being costs associated with tree removal. FUSE Executive Fellow Sara Hammes will lead the effort to collect and analyze financial and ecological data, engage key stakeholders, and propose a new fee schedule by April 2025. The goal is to ensure that the fees appropriately capture the actual value of UFD’s work and the positive impact of trees on the health and well-being of Los Angeles residents.

Starting in April 2024, Hammes will work on determining the actual cost of UFD services, considering additional services, evaluating the cost of tree removal, and assessing penalties for tree violations. Hammes will also examine the existing municipal code to propose changes that support higher fees, aligning the fee schedule with the value it provides to the city’s residents. This comprehensive project aims to incentivize developers to prioritize tree preservation and support the thriving urban forest that enhances the quality of life for Los Angeles residents. The new fee structure will also consider other city priorities, such as affordable housing, ensuring a balanced and sustainable approach to urban development.