Three Easy Ways To Be Cool

Okay, City Council, listen up. I've got this idea that's sure to keep you in office next election and the election after that. Just take a few little steps to cool down Phoenix, and you'll win over a gigantic block of registered voters who've been too damn hot to make it to the polls.

The voting block I'm referring to, of course, is working women who wear pantyhose. In other words, most working women. Including me.

You see, the urban heat island is even hotter for those of us with gams encased in the requisite nylon leggings. That's because we're already urban heat islands. We nearly melt when we wait for a bus on a July afternoon. Or walk across that stretch of concrete wasteland called the Civic Plaza. Or eat lunch in an airless restaurant that's trying to economize by turning the thermostat up to 85 sticky degrees.

So if you city council people take the following three environmentally sensible steps to cool down Phoenix, you're bound to win us over. Step One: Get the downtown Solar Oasis built. Step Two: Erect more cool towers at bus stops. Step Three: Change the building code to require ceiling fans in new buildings and remodels.

We'd like to commend the former City Council for chipping in half the funds for the $12.6 million Solar Oasis, which will convert the two acres of Civic Plaza between Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater into a canopied, naturally cooled, ecologically sound garden spot where even working women in pantyhose will be cool in the summer. But the Solar Oasis has yet to be built because the state won't hand over its $2 million loan unless you guys at the council and other interested parties obtain an additional $2 million in private matching funds. So work on this, okay? Generate a little community support by talking up the oasis at all those cocktail parties and luncheons you're always asked to. As for Step Two, erecting more cool towers at bus stops, that's a snap. Cool towers are silent, fanless turrets that convert hot air into reasonably cool air without using any expensive, polluting power source. Hot summer air simply passes through wet pads at the top of the tower, gets cooled and shoots down the tower walls to cool the working women in pantyhose waiting to catch the bus. The last city council supported the erection of two "cool-tower transit shelters" at the city's Sunnyslope bus terminal. These shelters, with their quirky little benches and desert landscaping, are indeed wonderful. What's more, compared to misting systems, cool towers don't use a lot of precious water. Not all of us live in Sunnyslope, though, so we need a few more cool towers. We know you're putting one in at the Paradise Valley Mall stop, but how about in south Phoenix and west Phoenix and downtown? Surprisingly, a cool-tower shelter isn't all that expensive--a fully landscaped shelter costs about $30,000. You at the city council could build about 40 shelters this year by simply taking $1 million out of the city's lottery loot. We did some checking, and in the last two years the city got over $16 million in lottery revenues. State law says the city must spend at least 90 percent of its lottery dollars on mass transit. Since this year promises to be just as lucrative as the last two, why not stash away a million or so for a few extra cool towers?

Step Three: ceiling fans. That's easy. All you city council people would have to do is urge changes in the city building code to require ceiling fans in new buildings and remodels subject to city inspection. It wouldn't cost the city any money, because it has to send inspectors out to make sure buildings conform to code anyway.

Everyone who has ceiling fans knows how great they are. Arizona Public Service says anyone, even a woman in pantyhose, can set the air-conditioning thermostat two degrees higher than normal and turn on a ceiling fan and be just as comfortable. Example: If it's 80 degrees in a room, a ceiling fan makes it feel just as comfortable as if it were 78 degrees. Besides being downright pleasant, these little whirring wonders are economical and more environmentally sound than air conditioners. Electric ACs heat up when they run and shoot heat into our already sweltering city. They also use freon, which is supposed to wreak havoc on the ozone layer. A ceiling fan, on the other hand, doesn't shoot any heat into the city. And according to APS they only cost about one cent per hour running on high speed. So fans usually end up paying for themselves in a year.

Cool us down, City Council, and we working women in pantyhose will give you our vote.

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Terry Greene

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