Burbank Trees Looking for Some Love With Shortage of Forestry Workers

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

When myBurbank received a Letter to the Editor recently, the writer complained about the timing and consideration he was given about trimming the City-owned trees at his home. According to the City, there is actually a severe shortage of Forestry personnel in the city, and the City has had to hire an independent contractor to try and keep up with the command.

Between 2004 and 2015, Forestry lost 17% of its positions due to recent City budget restrictions, according to Burbank Public Information Officer Jonathan Jones. Currently, the City just has one Forestry crew comprising of four employees and one supervisor.

With over 29,00 parkway trees alone, the City has had to hire an independent contractor, using the salary of three of the 11 current vacancies plus a vacant supervisor position to pay for the services. Even with that contractor, there are still eight unfilled positions.

It is not like they have not been trying to fill the positions either. “Since 2017, we have had a total of 12 recruitments to fill the various positions, and all have been unsuccessful.  In general, few people apply, and those that apply have not met the minimum qualifications.” according to Jones.

He said that there are four titles in the Forestry Division, which are: Tree Trimmer Helper, Tree Trimmer, Senior Tree Trimmer, and Forestry Supervisor.

“Prior to April 2022, the City required both the Senior Tree Trimmer and Tree Trimmer classifications to have the certification at the time of appointment.  In April, the specifications for the Tree Trimmer were revised, removing the need for certification at the time of appointment.  However, we require that once they are hired with the City, they obtain this certification within one year of appointment. Additionally, the Tree Trimmer Helper, Tree Trimmer, and Senior Tree Trimmer job specifications were broadened and revised in hopes of attracting more qualified candidates.”

He also says that the City requires a Certified Arborist, above a Certified Tree Worker certification and verified by the City, out in the field and responsible for the crew.

Jones says that Forestry’s goal is that by hiring the contractor, they will strive to maintain a 6-year tree trimming cycle, meaning all of the City’s 29,000 parkway trees are trimmed and/or inspected every six years.

Burbank is currently looking for new applicants. Jones says there will be new job postings on the City website every Friday. Currently, after another unsuccessful recruitment, three Senior Tree Trimmer positions will be on the site soon. If an applicant is hired, the City will assist with the certification process, including paying an employee to receive a Certified Tree Worker certification.