Cooling at L.A. County Cooling Centers

Even during record heat, surprisingly few people go to L.A. cooling centers. Why? A few reasons: a high cost, parking fees, and heat.

The first step toward cooling at L.A. County’s 17 cooling centers is a visit to the nearest center. At the first Cool Night and Cool Day programs, about 4,000 visitors a year—many from the audience—gathered outside in front of the center and enjoyed free, 15-minute rides to cooling centers.

The next step is to visit the center itself. At the first Cool Nights, the average visitor walked 20 minutes in hot weather, but the number fell about 50 percent by year three. The drop may be a result of the fact that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is spending $13 million on cool events to boost tourism. At the first Cool Days, the number of visitors went up by a third.

The final step, visiting the center itself, may be the most daunting. This is where the challenge is greatest. Most centers are outdoors, and there’s always that element of surprise—you’re surrounded by an asphalt parking lot, which makes your initial walk through the center and into the car park a little surreal.

“The main reason to go is the heat,” said John Rios, a spokesman for the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department. “The worst part about going to a center is walking around and seeing all the cars there like a giant parking lot.”

At the county’s first Cool Night and Cool Day events, it took about 20 minutes to walk into a center, even in hot weather. At a typical event, it took about 40 minutes.

“It just takes a little bit of time, but it’s worth it, especially once you see the coolness on the outside,” said Jeff Graziani, who attended his first Cool Night. “Now I’m going to drive right back out and start to sweat again, which

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