A $50,000 electric bill? The cost of cooling L.A.’s biggest houses in a heat wave was $300,000 last year. And there’s just more to come.
(Photo: AP/Ricardo Arduengo)
LOS ANGELES — The hottest temperatures that have hit L.A. in recent memory have turned the city into an open-air museum of death and suffering. The sun has baked Los Angeles to a crisp, and the few people still in the city are suffering their own version of hypothermia.
In the days before the heat was even a threat, the city was reeling from a series of wildfires and had to shut down Interstate 5 — part of its most important artery to the west.
The region’s worst heat wave was still well on its way when the first calls started coming in, from friends and family, asking what was happening to people in the area. Then there were calls from the police telling people that it would be a long, hot day. The death count increased quickly.
But the city wasn’t in danger yet.
To many in the city, it was a good reminder that life is still worth living.
That’s why more than 200 people gathered outside the homes that are among the most expensive in the country. Their houses are so large that they usually sit on at least two acres of land, and each has its own pool. At least one has a backyard full of palm trees and other plants, like flowering pomegranates, and a bird bath for a backyard bird. Some homes are so large that they feel like hotels.
It was a Saturday morning last week, and many of the people who gathered were retirees. Some had been in their homes for as long as six months. One man was sleeping on a mattress on the living room floor, trying to find a comfortable spot that wouldn’t hurt his back or foot.
“I’ve been there for 25 years and they don’t bother me