Los Angeles: when access to shade is a marker of social inequality

Los Angeles: when access to shade is a marker of social inequality


In the summer, Los Angeles is one of the hottest cities in the United States. In this furnace, looking for a little shade is completely legitimate, regardless of social status. Yet researchers have determined that access to shaded areas is a marker of social inequality.

Shadow, a question of fairness
As incredible as it may seem at first glance, access to shaded areas is a factor of social inequality. In any case, this is the conclusion made by researchers at the University of California in the context of a study carried out on behalf of the city of Los Angeles.

“Maybe we didn’t think of it that way, but shade is a matter of fairness,” said Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, in an interview with The New York Times on December 1, 2019.

With temperatures above 40 ° C, Los Angeles is a real furnace in summer. However, the fact is that in 2019, the city considers the sun and the heat as a crisis to be resolved, much more than an argument intended for tourists! According to the researchers, the number of days of extreme heat in Los Angeles should drop from 7 per year to 22 by 2050, a situation obviously attributed to climate change.

More shade among the wealthy
The researchers made observations that are not misleading. Indeed in upscale neighborhoods such as Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, large trees and the shadows that go with them are everywhere. In contrast, in disadvantaged neighborhoods (ex: Compton, Inglewood), the situation is completely different.

We can cite the people waiting for the bus during hot weather. They are desperately trying to find shade with the help of a traffic sign, shop awning, or someone else. The municipality thus wishes to launch a plan for more equity as regards access to shade. No less than 750 bus stops will have shade sails to relieve people.

The fact is that the low presence of trees characterizes disadvantaged neighborhoods. With a recovery rate of 10 and 12% of the surface of these districts, we are rather far from the posh areas where this same rate borders on 35%. The city of Los Angeles has committed to planting approximately 90,000 trees by 2021 to balance the balance.