SOLANA BEACH —At the request of San Diego Animal Advocates, council members agreed at the May 14 meeting to place signs in public and commercial parking lots warning people of the danger of leaving children and pets in parked cars.
According to SDAA it takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle to suffer heatstroke.
The organization said experts say on a mildly warm, 72-degree day the inside of a car will increase to 116 degrees within an hour, even if it is in the shade with the windows cracked.
On an 80-degree day the inside temperature can climb to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.
Even a 60-degree day can be fatal to a dog in a car, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association.
Encinitas, Escondido and the city of San Diego have approved similar programs.
SDAA will cover the cost of buying and installing the signs in approved locations. City staff will work with commercial parking lot owners who want to participate. Because the placards are informational and installed on behalf of the city, they are exempt from the current sign ordinance.
SDAA proposed using 12-inch-by-24-inch laminated vinyl signs with anti-graffiti coating that are expected to last up to 20 years.
Although they support the project, council members had concerns about the proposed signs.
“These look like they came straight out of the 1950s,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said.
She said she would like them redesigned with up-to-date graphics and fewer words so they are easier to read.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Councilman Dave Zito said, agreeing with Heebner that the proposed signs “are relatively unattractive.”
Councilman Mike Nichols said he wanted assurance the city would have control over what the signs looked like and how many would be installed.
Resident Jack Hegenauer recommended a more comprehensive sign that would remind people not to leave kids, pets or reuseable shopping bags in their cars.
“It’s certainly not my intention this evening to trivialize the public health risk of hot automobiles, but seeing this item on the agenda got me thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody could have their very own law and parking lot sign?’” he said.
Hegenauer said while there is already a law for one of his favorite causes, plastic bag reduction, the reminder signs at Vons are few, small and located high atop lampposts.
“I’m somewhat envious of the footprint of the larger hot car signs,” he said.
“I get what you’re saying,” Heebner said. “What’s in front of us tonight is to save children who could be left in cars and saving pets who could be left in cars. I had no idea that a car would heat up with the windows cracked to that degree.”
Mayor Tom Campbell said discussing plastic bag signage was not appropriate since the item was not on the agenda.
Zito noted that if too many other organizations request signs, the city will admit “it was a bad experiment” and remove them all.