By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
In collaboration with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and local officials, El Medio Bluffs resident and environmental attorney Lisa Kaas Boyle has been helping individuals experiencing homelessness access water in downtown LA by helping launch the Skid Row Cooling Resources Coalition.
With a goal to prevent plastic pollution and improve water quality, Boyle said the lack of water accessibility in Skid Row concerned her.
“Los Angeles was founded, like most civilizations, because of access to water: the Los Angeles River,” Boyle explained to the Palisadian-Post. “But we channeled that in concrete and covered most of our city in concrete, so the ground is impermeable to our rain, which washes right out to the ocean. And we waste our limited water on lawns and allow corporations to take our limited groundwater and sell it back to us in plastic.
“The result … is what is called an urban heat island, what downtown Los Angeles is, and Skid Row gets the worst of it … the heat is amplified by the concrete and even at night when it should cool off, the temperature is still higher because it radiates out from the concrete that holds the heat.”
Following record-breaking heat trends this year and years past, Boyle said Skid Row has been in urgent need of water resources—Skid Row Cooling Resources was created to address these needs and offer emergency relief.
Boyle worked with Stephany Campos, director of strategic planning and special projects for Homeless Health Care LA and executive director of The Refresh Spot, to launch the pilot program.
On Wednesday, July 28, SRCR announced the operation of four outdoor cooling centers in Skid Row to provide relief from the heat this summer. The team introduced a dual use of fire hydrants with a bifurcated attachment to provide the cooling tents with mist and serve as a “water bar,” offering filtered tap water to individuals. The cooling centers are accessible 16 hours per day through October.
“It’s been remarkable. I go downtown regularly just to drive by and check in and see how it’s going, and seeing people enjoy the relief provided by these cooling stations … is one of the most satisfying things in my career as an environmental attorney,” Boyle said. “Working on providing this relief to the homeless population on Skid Row has been so immediate and wonderful to see it come to fruition, it’s such a joy.”
Boyle said SRCR is interested in offering hygienic and water resources on a more permanent basis to help individuals transition out of the conditions they face in Skid Row and beyond.
“These kinds of things are important to ending homelessness because the basics of humanity is having hygiene, and if you can’t keep clean and have any personal dignity, it’s hard to get a job,” Boyle said. “It’s hard to move out of these terrible situations on the streets.”
Boyle said she has also been working for years with LADWP on a project to provide hydration station installation. She said the plan is to get hydration stations across the city and create an “oasis” for public water access before the 2028 Summer Olympics, which will take place in LA.
In line with her efforts to introduce hydration stations to the public realm, Boyle said she is currently working with locally founded environmental organization Resilient Palisades to bring accessible water to Pacific Palisades.
“I am on the Zero Waste Team of Resilient Palisades and my focus is to get rid of plastic pollution in our Village by getting these hydration stations installed so people can refill their bottles instead of bringing plastic water bottles,” Boyle said. “The first will probably be at Temescal Gateway Park where you see so many plastic bottles along the trail … I think people need to understand the connection between plastic pollution and our fossil fuel addiction. Getting water to the public without plastic is one of the key ways that we can stop plastic pollution.
“We have so many people that visit the Palisades because of the incredible beauty we have here, but a lot of them leave more than just footsteps.”
For more information or to get involved, visit skidrowcooling.wordpress.com.
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