create / 2015

Angel City Lumber

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Angel City Lumber

Everybody loves trees while they’re standing, but In Los Angeles a felled tree immediately becomes “green waste,” garbage to be chipped or buried in city landfills. But the natural urban forest of our city overflows with usable trees which can be re-purposed into highly sought after lumber. Angel City Lumber offers a vision of Los Angeles in which trees felled in the city are given a second life in the hands of the artists, crafts people and builders of Los Angeles.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • Based in Boyle Heights, Angel City Lumber will re-use trees found anywhere in Los Angeles.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA
  • Number of high growth startups
  • Venture capital investment
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

Wood plays a vital role in Los Angeles’ creative landscape. From the elevated design of Disney Concert Hall’s Oak floors to the handmade Walnut mustache combs of Offerman Wood Shop - Los Angeles artists love to use quality hardwood. Fine furniture makers design and produce elegant tables, chairs and credenzas. Artists find beauty in the knots and burls of misshapen trees. And Interior designers plan for natural wood floors, decks and ceilings for their clients. Undeniably, wood plays an enormous role in the consciousness of Los Angeles creative minds.

However, most hardwood lumber offered for sale in Los Angeles comes from elsewhere. Builders looking for White Oak have it trucked in from Maine. A furniture maker hired to build a Walnut credenza ends up with wood from Alabama. And most Douglas Fir flooring found in Los Angeles originated in British Columbia. This is the fundamental problem Angel City Lumber will combat. In a city where hundreds of gorgeous, usable hardwood trees are felled every month - only the smallest percentage are re-used.

As soon as trees are felled in Los Angeles they are considered “green waste.” The city usually chops downed trees into two foot lengths and buries them in landfills - or at best, mulches them. We do this to more than 95% of our urban trees.

Angel City Lumber takes the fallen trees of our community and mills them into building materials, specifically dimensional lumber, wood slabs, and millworks. We use a state-of-the-art portable Lucas Mill 8-30 for cutting and we dry the wood in our Nyle L200M wood kiln for between 6-8 weeks. Finally, we offer these urban lumber products back to builders, furniture makers, artists, contractors, homeowners, architects and designers in the Los Angeles community.

We have a strong, uncomplicated vision for Los Angeles. We want to stop burying trees and instead use them to increase the supply of high quality raw materials available to city artists, while at the same time lowering prices. The resources of Los Angeles should be utilized by those living and working in Los Angeles. But beyond that, we take pride in being a small local business created to minimize waste while at the same time bolstering the creative opportunities within Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Angel City Lumber’s mission is to re-use the readily available resource of Los Angeles’ urban forest and, in so doing, provide the city with high quality, low priced hardwood lumber. By far the best way to evaluate our success lies in tracking our market share. By evaluating our sales against those of other Los Angeles lumber companies, that do not source their lumber locally, we can effectively track what impact we are having on delivering a valuable resource to the local artistic community.

We have no delusions of grandeur - we are starting small in the hopes of instigating a larger change over time. Big lumber companies and home centers’ are in no danger of suddenly seeing their sales dry up. However, by steadily increasing our market share, we hope to present a positive example of how re-using sustainable local resources can not only positively affect our bottom line, but will also aid the creative population we serve.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support