INVESTIGATIVE

How a phone call to the I-Team got an LA neighborhood a new, safer sidewalk

A 100 year-old LA sidewalk--where numerous people had tripped and hurt themselves because it was cracked and dangerous--has now been replaced with a smooth new sidewalk after the NBC4 I-Team did a series of reports on this slip and fall hazard.

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The sidewalk is in front of the Wilfandel Club on West Adams Blvd. and 5th Street, LA's first private club for women of color, founded in 1945, when other clubs had "white members only" policies.

"This new sidewalk is super safe. We don't have to worry about people falling any longer," said Kristina Brown, a member of the Wilfandel Club.

Brown began emailing city and county officials in late 2021 about the dangerous sidewalk, telling them numerous elderly members of the Club had fallen on it, and pleading with them to repair it.

"I kept resending the email over and over and over, and no one was paying attention," Brown told NBC4. "I don't like it when people don't pay attention to me." 

So a frustrated Brown decided to call the I-Team, knowing they had done reports on the dangers of LA's decrepit sidewalks since 2014.

The I-Team then did a story on the treacherous sidewalk around the Wilfandel Club, and how the city had never fixed it since the clubhouse was built in 1912.

Suddenly, Kristina Brown started getting replies to her months-old emails from public officials.

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"No one answered me back until Channel 4 got involved," Brown said.

Brown got an email from the staff of the District 10 city councilperson at the time, Herb Wesson, saying they were "looking forward to working with the [Wilfandel] group" to rebuild the sidewalk. 

But things dragged on, and in February of this year LA Public Works told the I-Team "the estimated time for completion" of a new sidewalk was still "3-6 years" away.

So the I-Team did another report on the city's slow bureaucratic pace in rebuilding the dangerous sidewalk around the Wilfandel Club.

At some point after that report, Public Works put the project on a "priority" list, and suddenly in July, work began. Workers from LA Street Services tore up the cracked sidewalk in front of the club and on the side on 5th Avenue, and poured 1477 square feet of new cement. 

After three weeks of work, there was a brand new sidewalk around the Wilfdandel Club, plus two new access ramps that had never been there, at a cost of $140,000.

"I love the new sidewalk. It's just what we needed," said 88 year-old Sue Clay, a longtime Wilfandel Club member, who fell on the cracked sidewalk in October 2021.

"It's super safe. We don't have to worry about people falling any longer," said Kristina Brown, who helped get the new sidewalk after contacting the I-Team.

She says she's learned a lesson from her experience with public officials who ignored her for months.

"Never give up," Brown said. "And call [the I-Team's] Joel Grover when you need something to get done."

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