Mapping Heat Inequality

A new mapping tool underscores inequities in infrastructure that lead to higher rates of heat-related illnesses in low-income neighborhoods.

Read Time: 2 minutes

July 14, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of Los Angeles skyline against a bright orange sky with a palm tree at left

logoboom / Los Angeles skyline

A new mapping tool from UCLA that tracks heat-related emergency room visits in Los Angeles County “highlights a stark disparity between wealthier, leafier neighborhoods and those that are home to fewer trees, more concrete and higher occurrences of underlying health issues.” Hayley Smith reports on the map’s findings for the Los Angeles Times. “Although extreme heat has become the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, a Times investigation found that such deaths are chronically undercounted.”

According to the map, some parts of Los Angeles see as much as four times as many emergency room visits due to extreme heat. “The parts of L.A. County that show higher rates of ER visits during heat days include the South L.A. corridor down to the ports, the San Pedro area, and the northwest Valley, especially San Fernando and Pacoima, said Eisenman, who is also a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.”

A county Climate Vulnerability Assessment released last fall found that extreme heat could increase by as much as ten times in the next two decades. “[David Eisenman, co-director of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters] said the findings in L.A. County are in some ways not surprising in that they echo the ‘decades of redlining’ that have led to differences in shade, access to air conditioning and even base-line health levels in some L.A. communities. Redlining was the institutional practice of denying homeownership and financial services to residents based on race.” Eisenman also points out that heat exacerbates underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

The city of L.A.’s new “chief heat officer,” Marta Segura, says her office is working to create an early warning system for heat waves and implement long-term strategies for reducing heat exposure, including planting more trees and updating building codes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Washington

Washington Could Legalize Single-Staircase Buildings

Supporters of ‘point access blocks,’ which are common in Europe and other parts of the world, say the design maximizes living space and lowers the cost of construction.

1 hour ago - The Urbanist

View of downtown San Francisco from top of windy street at sunset with Coit Tower in distance

San Francisco Housing Plan Gets State Approval

The city cleared a major hurdle as its housing plan, which paves the way for 82,000 new homes by 2030, is certified by the state.

2 hours ago - KALW

Green Line, Los Angeles

Rail Transit Plans Would Connect L.A.’s South Bay to the Regional Rail System

Two new transit extensions promise several new routes for South Bay residents to access the Los Angeles region’s transit system.

3 hours ago - The Source

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.