Concerned that South Los Angeles residents do not have adequate access to healthy food choices, a Los Angeles City Council committee unanimously called for a ban on opening fast-food restaurants in the area July 22.
The proposed ordinance—spearheaded by City Councilwoman Jan Perry—is intended to stem what is seen as a glut of such eateries in South Los Angeles. It also would give local leaders more control over future development in the area.
The proposal, which was forwarded to the full council, would prevent fast food chains from opening new restaurants in a 32-square-mile area that includes South Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park. The ban would be in effect for one year, with the possibility of two six-month extensions. A fast food restaurant is “any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders, and food served in disposable wrapping or containers,’’ according to the draft ordinance.
About 500,000 Angelenos would be affected by the ban. The ordinance is expected to be in place until the city Planning Department completes its community plan for South Los Angeles.
“This is not about banning fast food. It is about capitalizing on a window of time to ensure that the land we have left to develop in our respective districts is developed in a strategic manner that speaks to the needs of the people who reside and live there,’’ Perry told the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
Perry is trying to get major grocery store chains and sit-down restaurants to open businesses in her South L.A. district. Work began this month on a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market at Adams Boulevard and Central Avenue.
A report released last year by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that 25 percent of children in Los Angeles are obese. In South Los Angeles, about 30 percent of youngsters fall into that category.
“I don’t think that certain parts of our city should learn to eat hamburgers 15 different ways,’’ said City Councilman Bernard Parks, whose district will be impacted by the ordinance.
A report completed by CB Richard Ellis in 2005 found that residents in the 9th District spend $400 million a year at grocery stores and restaurants outside Perry’s 9th District. The Community Redevelopment Agency is hoping to attract grocers and restaurants to the area with an incentive package that includes priority assistance from the CRA, tax credits, discounts on electricity rates and expedited plan review by the Planning Department and Building and Safety. The ban is not the first time city and county officials have tried to regulate the eating habits of residents.
In November 2007, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors started a program that encourages restaurants to voluntarily cut down on the use of trans fat oils, which can increase the risk of coronary disease, heart attacks and diabetes. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has also directed the city Department of Recreation and Parks to no longer offer foods with artificial trans fats.