LAUSD’s Unshaded Playground Problem Goes Back Decades

For the editor: The need for green space on Los Angeles Unified School District playgrounds is sadly an old story. (“Playground asphalt sizzles at 145 degrees during extreme heat waves. Parents demand shade at school,” September 1)

I started my teaching career in 1970 at Parmelee Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles. In 1971, I took a photography course that required a final project that combined photos and music. I photographed the Parmelee playground, which was just asphalt.

Then I visited an elementary school in Palos Verdes; his playground was lush and grassy. I juxtaposed the photos of the two play areas, accompanied by the Cat Stevens song “Where Do the Children Play?”

It’s sad to know that the answer hasn’t changed.

Juliane McAdam, Los Osos, CA.

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For the editor: Groups like Trees for a Green LA and Tree People would be great resources for schools with warm, unshaded asphalt playgrounds. But you would think that schools know about these sources of free trees.

I remember the shade of the native live oak trees in my schoolyard. Schools should plant large shade trees for children.

Bonnie Mathews Porter, Los Angeles

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For the editor: Schools should install solar panels on these hot asphalt playgrounds to provide shade. So they won’t need scarce water for new landscaping and they can have more solar power to mitigate climate change and reduce utility bills.

Diane Soini, Santa Barbara

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For the editor: Why don’t we just start school a few weeks later?

Kelly Allison, The Crescent

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For the editor: When it’s over 100 degrees outside and the Los Angeles Unified School District has a backlog of broken air conditioners, and its playgrounds are hot enough to fry an egg, we’re in big trouble.

It is important to know however that we are not helpless in the face of oppressive heat. There are solutions.

We can create shade by planting more trees. We can plant grass and keep it green with recycled water instead of paving our playgrounds with hot asphalt. We can deploy cooler roofs and sidewalks and place shade structures over busy intersections.

Unfortunately, the state legislature, in the session that just ended, failed to adequately fund cooling solutions.

The Times editorial is right. The legislature’s irresponsible response is a cause for shame.

Enrique Huerta, Los Angeles

The writer is legislative director of the Climate Resolve group.

Harold B. McConnell