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White-painted streets: Phoenix monitoring pilot program in Los Angeles

Posted at 10:24 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 01:47:43-04

Ten degrees cooler, we'd take it any day during our hot summers! 

And there's a new idea being tested right now that could make it possible and that temperature difference could be even higher. 

ABC15 went to Los Angeles to check it out and see if it's something the Valley should consider to cool us down. 

"My first impression was, 'What is that?'" explains Joshua Wassung, who lives in the Westchester neighborhood by LAX in Los Angeles. "I had no idea. It seemed so strange."

Call it what you want. 

The City of Los Angeles says it could be the coolest way to fight back against rising temperatures across a city that's getting warmer. 

"We take the issue of climate change very seriously," explains Lauren Faber O'Connor, Mayor Eric Garcetti's chief sustainability officer. 

And so to fight back against those red-hot temperatures, the city is getting creative and painting some of its streets white. 

It's all to fight back against what's known as the "urban heat island effect." 

"It offers an immediate cooling effect to that area," explains O'Connor. She says, by ten degrees.  

"We've even seen people walking their dogs, and their dogs are preferring that area because it's lighter on their paws." 

Over the last year, the City of Los Angeles has painted three lane miles of blacktop with a substance known as CoolSeal.  

It goes on white but dries a shade of gray. The company says CoolSeal works by reflecting the sun's rays, so they don't get absorbed and then radiate heat. 

"The color of a surface tells us how reflective that surface is," explains ABC15 Chief Meteorologist Amber Sullins. 

"It will absolutely work if you take a surface and you change what we call the albedo or the reflectivity of that surface. Then, it will stay cooler." 

The city says it costs about $40,000 per mile and should last seven years. 

Wassung says he's happy the city is trying to go green, but worries about an unintended consequence. 

"When I'm driving home from work, the sun is kind of directly lined up with the road, and it comes right into my windshield."

The city says it hasn't gotten any complaints of glare from other residents but does say this program is in its pilot phase right now and officials are still trying to collect feedback from all over the city. 

"We're looking at this from all angles, not just from the cooling angle but also the safety side." 

We asked the City of Phoenix if it would consider the white streets. We were told that the city is waiting to see how the pilot program in Los Angeles goes.