On Friday, San Jose and Santa Clara County opened cooling centers as a major heat wave hit the region.
With temperatures reaching highs of 95 degrees, San Jose made three air-conditioned spaces available in its Roosevelt, Mayfair and Camden Community centers. Santa Clara County also opened five cooling centers. In addition to air conditioning, these centers provided bottled water, free WiFi and outlets for charging devices.
Inside the Roosevelt Community Center at 3 p.m., the mood was quiet. Six people sat at separate tables, keeping to themselves, half-heartedly watching reruns on a bulky TV set at the front of the room. The supervisor fiddled with the remote after one of the patrons, Sandra Nessim, asked if the channel could be changed.
“I’ve been coming here for the past 10 years,” Nessim told San José Spotlight. “I come every summer.”
At a nearby table, two older people murmured quietly to each other as they drank their water. The cooling center appeared to be as much a communal space as it was a cold one.
The scene was different at the Mayfair Community Center later in the day. The lights were off and employees at the desk said few people had shown up throughout the day.
Ed Bautista, spokesperson for San Jose Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, was unfazed by the lack of traffic.
“We try to open up these areas so people can go there, but it’s up to them,” he told San José Spotlight. “Perhaps they’re going to go to the library, perhaps the mall—it’s another available resource for people to have during this time of extreme heat.”
In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom released an Extreme Heat Action Plan to prepare for the effects of increased warming. Among a long list of other items, the plan includes approximately $200,000 per year in state funds to support 400 cooling centers across the state.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, extreme heat disproportionately affects children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. High temperatures may lead to dehydration or heat stroke, while potentially affecting cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems. These effects are worse in urban areas, where the environment stores more heat.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on cooling centers found the act of visiting an air-conditioned space reduced risk of mortality by roughly 66% compared to those who did not visit air-conditioned spaces.
City officials affirmed the cooling centers will be made available when necessary throughout the summer.
“When a heat advisory happens, we’ll continue to open up cooling centers,” Bautista said. “It’s a safe space to beat the heat.”
Contact Jack Delaney at [email protected]
Cooling centers will reopen at the city’s discretion when heat advisories are issued. Locations subject to change.
Camden Community Center, 3369 Union Ave., San Jose, open 1-9 p.m.
Mayfair Community Center, 2039 Kammerer Ave., San Jose, open 1-9 p.m.
Roosevelt Community Center, 901 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose, open 1-9 p.m.