Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Evening Edition

San Diegans Can Chill And Save Money With ‘Cool Zones’

A 'This Property is a Designated Cool Zone Today' sign is displayed in the Lakeside Community Center on June 16, 2021 in Lakeside, CA.
Melissa Mae
A 'This Property is a Designated Cool Zone Today' sign is displayed in the Lakeside Community Center on June 16, 2021 in Lakeside, CA.

San Diego County is making it easier to beat the heat. Nine Cool Zones have been opened at community centers and libraries in some of the hottest areas of the county.

These sites encourage people to conserve energy during the hottest parts of the day.

San Diegans Can Chill And Save Money With ‘Cool Zones’
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae

That’s especially important now that the California Independent System Operator (ISO), who runs the state’s electric grid, has issued a Flex Alert for June 17th, calling on all Californians to conserve.


RELATED: Heat Wave Prompts Call For Voluntary Power Conservation Thursday

According to California ISO, a Flex Alert is a call for consumers to voluntarily conserve electricity when there is a predicted shortage of energy supply, especially if the grid operator needs to dip into reserves to cover demand. When consumers reduce electricity use at critical times, it can prevent more dire emergency measures, including possible power outages.

El Cajon Resident Raymond Gonzalez enjoyed his lunch at the Cool Zone in the Lakeside Community Center.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened. Any recreation center of this kind, or for this kind of matter, is one the best. So we can enjoy and interact with others,” Gonzalez said.

RELATED: Beachgoers Escape Heat, Enjoy Coast Without COVID Restrictions


The Spring Valley Community Center is another Cool Zone. Joanne McGhee is the Parks Recreational Supervisor for San Diego County and sees the impact a Cool Zone has in East County.

“We have a lot of folks that are maybe low income and can’t run their air conditioners or maybe they don’t have air conditioning, so folks can come to the community center,” McGhee said. “We set our thermostats very cool so you enjoy reading books or playing cards out of the extreme heat.”

Arizona resident Alice Ortiz enjoys the opportunity to participate in activities with air conditioning.

“It’s really nice to come to a center here because they do have air conditioning. They have things to do for seniors and they don’t have to be so lonely at home,” Ortiz said.

All locations provide a space to read or play games and other locations provide movies and computers. It's a great space for people who are working from home without air conditioning.

“People come in and they set up their remote workstation and they’ll hang out here for five hours, six hours to enjoy the cool temperatures,” McGhee said.

And the Cool Zones serve another important function.

“Some of the benefits are social interaction. We’ve been without that interaction, that face to face experience for well over a year and so it’s a good opportunity for people to come out and really have a safe place to interact with others,” McGhee said.

Masks are required at all sites and some sites require temperature checks.

To find the closest Cool Zone to you, go to or call (800)339-4661.