Are there no parks in LA, no out door restaurants, no avenues with treed boulevards? Where a late night visit with a chainsaw wouldn't pay off?
Actually I second the notion to travel to the wine and citrus country. I live in orchard country and the apple, cherry, apricot, pear etc is usually free for the asking during pruning time. I don't have a stick burner so I don't need very much wood. I often see huge stacks of fruit wood for sale as I travel about the farms looking for a few free chunks.
I am a Scot and see no need to dole out any cash when free is a possibility.
I have gleaned a large, 18 inches across and 6 feet long maple log just by asking one of the operators of a tree cutting service if I could have it. He said sure then proceded to cut it into 12 inch lengths for me. Nice guy.
Even one of the city crews gave me a long branch from a mulberry tree when I begged for it. I could have had the whole tree but had no where to put the darn thing.
For use on top of charcoal I use some of the thicker grape prunings, they make really nice smoke. My grapes are all about 5 years old and some of the branches are already 4 inches thick. Just perfect for making smoker chunks.
Almost anywhere you see a tree being chopped down is a good spot to beg for the wood. Making sure of course you know what type of wood it is and checking to make sure that it is a good wood to smoke.
PS. Way back in the hills near almost any creek there is usually a standing dead alder or Birch tree that makes the most awesome smoke for fish.
I also have been known to persuade a green alder to come home with me.
BTW you can also often look thru the scrap bin at your local lumber yard and get such goodies as Hickory and Maple already dried and ready to be sawn into chunk size. Usually quite cheaply or even free.