For Civic-Minded Abramson, ‘It’s The Small Things That Lead To Big Change’

By ERIN HINDS and ALEXANDRIA BORDAS | Intern, Reporter

In Pacific Palisades, neighbors routinely complain to each other about gaping potholes and disheveled sidewalks. The gripes often end up in the 2 Cents column of the Palisadian-Post, but how many Palisadians actually do something to fix these seemingly small community nuisances?

For the past eight years Palisadian Grant Abramson has taken it upon himself to be the unsung hero who gets these little jobs done.

Abramson has been a resident since 1972 and over the years he started taking notice of the many slight imperfections scattered on the streets and sidewalks.

“When we first moved into our home 15 years ago, [the street] was in really bad shape so I started making requests and to my surprise the city was responsive,” said Abramson, who lives in the Upper Chautauqua neighborhood.

Within two weeks potholes were being filled and Abramson became a believer in the power of small change.

As simple as it sounds, Abramson said he just decided to stop griping and start asking for help by using City Services online to make his requests.

“In the past six months I have made requests for improvements on Chautauqua Boulevard that have included installing a road sign notifying drivers of an impending curve in the road, a red curb painting near a stop sign so cars observe the stop and the removal of overgrowth of plants spilling out into the road,” Abramson said.

All of his requests were made through the Bureau of Street Services, which falls under the Los Angeles Department of Public Works (LADWP). Its mission is to provide quality street services in a timely and efficient manner.

After each request was submitted Abramson received a confirmation email from City Services within 24 hours assuring him they would look into the problem. In most cases he did not receive a follow-up about LADWP getting the job done. Instead, he would just drive by and see that his requests had been fulfilled.

“I wanted to see if the city would be responsive to a range of requests and to my surprise each one was responded to really quickly. One was responded to so fast I don’t think I even noticed!” Abramson said with a laugh.

Formerly the director of leadership development at Capital Group, Abramson retired about five years ago. This has afforded him more time to focus on fixing up the neighborhood.

Abramson admitted that, like many people, he had an image of City Services as non-responsive and slow-moving. When he first starting contacting them, he had low expectations.

“I did not go into this process expecting the city to start trimming the trees or cleaning the streets on a regular basis,” Abramson explained. “For me, it’s the small things that don’t take a lot of time and money and only require someone having a voice asking something be done about it.”

Abramson hopes his actions will inspire other Palisadians to give it a try and see if they get the same successful results.

“If it fails, it fails,” Abramson said. “If it succeeds, then keep using it and send more requests to get the results you want.”

He added that contacting City Services is more effective than simply complaining.

“If one voice can get the city’s attention and a response to problems, think what a chorus of Palisades voices might accomplish,” Abramson said. “Join the choir, even if you can’t sing.”

To submit a fix-it request online, visit bss.lacity.org.

Grant Abramson, a resident since 1972, is fixing up his neighborhood one pothole at a time. Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
Grant Abramson, a resident since 1972, is fixing up his neighborhood one pothole at a time. Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer