Fresno's cooling centers might start opening on every triple-digit heat day

A resolution set to go before the Fresno City Council this week calls for cooling centers to be open longer and more often.

Alyssa Flores Image
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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Fresno leaders are considering keeping cooling centers open any time there's triple digits or when the weather is over 95 for two consecutive days.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Martha Losongco spends much of her time at the Ted C Wills Community Center. And she might find herself there more often if cooling center days and hours are expanded.

"It will help for the people that don't have a home, for a lot of people. My PG&E is so high that I wish I could just come sit here all day," she says.

The four city-run cooling centers offer cold water, an air-conditioned space, and a free FAX bus ride to and from. Pets are welcome.

Cooling center use is up this summer and Mayor Jerry Dyer says PG&E rate hikes are just one of the reasons why.

"There's warmer temperatures that we are seeing this year versus years past. And so we are at about 159 people that utilize our cooing center in the month of August, which is significantly up from years past. As PG&E costs increase, more people are going to find alternative ways to stay cool."

A resolution set to go before the Fresno City Council this week calls for those centers to be open longer and more often.

Right now, cooling centers only open when the weather is forecasted to hit 105 degrees.

Under this proposal, they would open any time there's triple digits or when the weather is over 95 degrees for two consecutive days.

That's most Fresno summer days.

Plus, hours would be expanded from 12 to 9 pm.

City council member Luis Chavez is co-proposing the resolution and says there's not a price tag on the expansion yet.

"We are actually working through that on who is going to staff it - are we just going to have existing park staff stay a little longer? Will we work with community-based organizations? Some of them are based there," Chavez says.

This year, Fresno has had 55 triple-digit days. Many were hot enough to require AC, but not hot enough for cooling centers to be open.

"We have a lot of vulnerable populations out there, particularly senior citizens that right now with them being on a fixed income, they can't afford to turn on the AC system as much as they used to. We know that inflation is going up, cost is going up," Chavez says.

Part of this resolution also includes identifying which areas in Fresno need cooling centers added to their communities.

The resolution will be discussed at the city council meeting this week.