SEATTLE — This week’s heat can feel different depending on where you live.
King County says that is leading to inequity in some low-income communities and communities of color. The county is working to develop its first-ever extreme heat mitigation strategy, and it will address the impact of heat inequities.
Shizuno Wynkoop is the manager at Resistencia Coffee in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. She said hot days make the neighborhood stand out.
"I mean, it's always a little hotter in South Park than anywhere in the rest of the city, especially because of all the pavement,” said Wynkoop. "It's like a section of 99, Highway 99, that cuts through right to the middle of South Park".
Lots of concrete and a lack of trees are why it heats up more in the neighborhood according to Wynkoop.
Lara Whitely Binder, King County’s Climate Preparedness Program Manager, first explained the problem to KING 5 last year. King County conducted a heat mapping project. On a July day, drivers set out on 15 pre-determined routes at the same time, collecting temperature data and discovering that it can be a more than 20-degree difference depending on your zip code.
"We were expecting to see the urban heat island effect. I think we were surprised to see how large the temperature difference was,” Whitely Binder said in August of 2021.
"We still do have many low-income residents that live in South Park,” said Wynkoop.
Whitely Binder said heat disparity is having an impact on low-income communities and communities of color.
"There's not a lot of air conditioning down here so people have a lot of small window units,” said Wynkoop. "If King County wanted to kind of move forward with creating some initiatives to help communities such as South Park to have more green space, fresher air, less concrete, that would be amazing."
The county reports that last year’s heat wave killed more than 30 people in King County alone.
As the county develops its extreme heat mitigation strategy, the county is working with a task force to ensure the strategy is equitable.