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On sweltering summer days, dark asphalt soaks up the sun and acts like a secondary heater under our feet.
That’s why Los Angeles is pushing a novel plan to cool down the city: Turn the streets a different color.
The idea of “cool pavements” has been kicking around City Hall for years, but only recently has it resulted in action on the ground.
Matt Peterson, Los Angeles’s chief sustainability officer, said test applications of a light gray coating known as CoolSeal had shown a 10-degree reduction in heat gain.
“It was pretty significant, particularly when you’re talking about asphalt that gets up to 130, 140 degrees,” he said.
Climate models suggest that parts of Los Angeles could see roughly three times as many extreme heat days — defined as more than 95 degrees — by midcentury.
Lighter-colored pavements won’t counteract the trend by themselves, but experts say a mix of measures that includes reflective roofs and more tree canopy could make a dent.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has predicted that the city could reduce its so-called urban heat island effect — caused by dark surfaces, lack of vegetation and discharges from traffic and industry — by three degrees over the next 20 years.
Proponents of cool pavements say that aside from providing greater physical comfort, even a small drop in temperatures would reduce energy use and mitigate the health risks associated with extreme heat.
Still, some environmental experts warn that more research is needed. What if, for example, the greenhouse gas emissions involved in the manufacture and deployment of cool pavements only worsen matters?
It is certain that lighter surfaces lower temperatures, said George Ban-Weiss, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at U.S.C.
But he added, “The science is less settled on whether the benefits outweigh the penalties.”
For now, Los Angeles is testing how CoolSeal, made by Guard Top, based in Dana Point, performs over time on a handful of city streets.
In May, a work crew slathered it onto a street in the Canoga Park neighborhood. Weeks later, residents told The Los Angeles Daily News that they could already feel the difference.
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
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• “Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. [The New York Times]
• The Pentagon wanted better eyes on North Korea’s missile program. A fleet of tiny satellites from Silicon Valley may be the answer. [The New York Times]
• John R. Quinn died at 88. As the archbishop of San Francisco in the 1980s and ’90s, he resolutely addressed the AIDS crisis. [The New York Times]
• A report showed there’s no end in sight to rising home prices in California. [San Gabriel Valley Tribune]
• The tiny house movement is gaining momentum in Palm Springs. [The Desert Sun]
• “California’s beaches belong to the public — not to the one percent.” [Opinion | Los Angeles Times]
• The discovery of a rare wolf pack in Lassen County was thrilling for conservationists. But not everyone is happy. [Sacramento Bee]
• In the Eastern Sierra, some of the state’s prettiest lakes are now full and open to visitors. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• The hip-hop producer DJ Khaled has a new album, a new baby and a garden in Beverly Hills that he calls Jerusalem. [The New York Times]
• Spider-Man is back on the big screen. It’s a “likable, amusing” movie, our critic writes. [The New York Times]
• Photos: A San Francisco exhibit offers a vision of 1960s America — in its television sets. [The New York Times]
Last year, a new bus service offering $48 overnight trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco created so much buzz that a wait-list grew into the thousands.
Why the huge demand?
The company, called SleepBus, came equipped with bunks that let passengers sleep through the journey and wake up early the next morning at their destination.
Overwhelmed by the public response, the company went on hiatus to figure out how to scale up the operation.
Now it’s back, with a new name (Cabin), more buses (three altogether), and a revised price (starting at $115 each way).
The buses have two levels, one for a bar and lounge area, and the other for the sleeping pods.
The concept has proved intriguing — last week Cabin announced $3.3 million in seed financing.
For potential riders, it also prompts all sorts of questions.
• Is there Wi-Fi? Yes.
• A bathroom? Yes, with a flushable toilet and sink.
• What about privacy? The pods have curtains, and a crew member rides along to ensure that everything is copacetic.
• Can you share your pod with someone? No.
• Is it clean?
Think of it as a moving hotel, Tom Currier, a founder of Cabin, said in an email: “This includes professionally cleaning the entire vehicle and providing fresh bedding for every single trip.”
• Most pressingly for Mr. Currier and his team, will enough people be willing to pay $115 a ride when you can commonly fly the same route for less?
That question will start being tested next week. The service kicks off July 14.
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The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.