La Sombrita and America’s Pervasive Band-Aid Problem

A pedestrian walks past La Sombrita, a prototype bus stop structure to provide shade during the day and solar-powered lighting at night, in Los Angeles, California on May 25, 2023. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dear Capitolisters,

A couple weeks ago, the internet enjoyed a rare moment of consensus when everyone—right and left; dog people and cat weirdos; etc.—came together to make fun of La Sombrita. For those of you who aren’t terminally online, La Sombrita (“little shade”) was trumpeted by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation as revolutionizing local bus stops by providing much needed shade and light to local public transit riders, especially women in low-income areas who have long been forced to suffer heat and safety (at night) issues while waiting for the bus. One tiny problem: La Sombrita provided little actual shade or light and did (didn’t do?) so at the low, low price of $10,000 (though subsequent models would be cheaper).

After the unveiling, the internet did what it does best: uncover a slew of uncomfortable facts about La Sombrita’s design, construction, and cost (which, even at $2,000, is really expensive)… and then make fun of it. Lots and lots of fun of it.

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