If you have ever had your air conditioner stop working during a heat wave, you know how miserable it can get. Not having air conditioning can even be life-threatening - think dehydration or heat-related illnesses. When prolonged, excessive heat is expected, local governments typically set up cooling centers for people who need refuge from the heat. The Bee published a list of the cooling centers and in Sacramento County and their hours of operation for the current heat emergency:
- Downtown Sacramento: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., noon to 8 p.m.
- North Sacramento: Hagginwood Community Center, 3271 Marysville Blvd., noon to 8 p.m.
- Glen Elder/south Sacramento: George Sim Community Center, 6207 Logan St., noon to 8 p.m.
- Elk Grove: Wackford Center, 9014 Bruceville Road, 1 to 9 p.m.
- Galt: Chabolla Community Center, 600 Chabolla Ave., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Folsom: City Senior & Arts Center, 48 Natoma St., noon to 7 p.m.
- Rancho Cordova: City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive, noon to 6 p.m.
- Citrus Heights: Community Center, 6300 Fountain Square Drive, noon to 6 p.m.
Did you notice that all the cooling centers are in cities? That’s right, there’s nary a one across the entire unincorporated area - the UnCity - of 600K people in Sacramento County. The County is directly responsible for municipal services like this in the UnCity and oversees public health for both the UnCity and the incorporated municipalities. There is even a page about heat emergencies on the County’s web site. When you go to that page you see that the County advises going to malls, movie theaters, libraries and other public buildings to cool off. Of course, none of them are open during the pandemic, so there is nowhere to go except the sites listed in The Bee. Time will tell if those sites have sufficient capacity for the 1.552M people in the County.
Beyond the capacity issue is the problem of access. The closest site to Arden Arcade is at the Hagginwood Center, 4 miles from Watt and El Camino, a 12 minute drive. Google Maps says the bus will get you there from Country Club Plaza in between 41-58 minutes, depending on which bus you take. Google maps doesn’t mention that you might have to wait a long time in the heat before a bus comes (if one comes). Access to a cooling center other words, is not exactly convenient or even functional. Why does this matter? Well, our community has a ton of old apartments with old (prone to failure) air conditioners or without air conditioners and lots of poverty. Almost 23% of Arden Arcade residents live below the poverty line and many of them rely on the bus to get around. That percentage doesn’t include the homeless. Bottom line: something like a quarter of our 100K people might be needing cooling centers during the current heat emergency and there are none to serve them. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Shall we give credit to our leaders at the County for that? Or shall we just look away from the problem?