City prepared to open respite centers to help residents cool down this summer

With summer temperatures approaching, the City of Sacramento is prepared to open respite centers during heat waves and other adverse conditions.

The City this year will be offering a new location where people can cool down. The former Science & Space Center Museum (3615 Auburn Blvd.), which is owned by the City, has been renovated for this purpose and can accommodate approximately 50 people.

“This space offers a lot of flexibility and will be instrumental in the City’s ongoing work to serve the community and help protect its residents,” said Bridgette Dean, director of the City’s Department of Community Response.

As approved by the City Council on March 1, the City will activate respite centers when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for expected dangerous heat conditions. That notification roughly coincides with a temperature forecast of 100 degrees or higher for at least two days and nighttime air temperatures of 75 degrees or higher.

These criteria are separate and distinct from the thresholds put forth in the State and County’s Severe Weather Guidance Plan, which are monitored by the City’s Office of Emergency Management. The Department of Community Response is responsible for the opening of respite centers under the March 1 thresholds.

“When we have very high temperatures, people experiencing homelessness — and even some people who have homes — need a place to cool off,” Dean said. “City respite centers provide that safe place to cool down. They also give us a chance to find out what other needs individuals might have so we can help to connect them with the appropriate resources.”

The City’s Office of Emergency Management continues to oversee response to wildfire smoke and will activate cleaner-air centers in coordination with Sacramento County Public Health and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

City Hall and City community centers including Hagginwood and the Hart Senior Center have served as overnight respite centers in the past and can be utilized as needed, officials said. During the day, community centers and public libraries also offer a safe place to escape the heat for a few hours as part of their normal day-to-day operations.

City respite centers typically offer water, snacks, restrooms and a place for people to rest and charge their phones. Some locations also allow people to bring their pets. The respite location on Auburn Boulevard, for example, has dog runs and storage space for people’s belongings.