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Jul 30, 2008 07:58 AM

New fast-food chains banned from poor LA neighborhoods?

Earthlink's just bursting with tidbits today.

It's a year-long moratorium. And raises all the same questions the transfat ban does plus more involving classism on both sides.

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  1. So, now you can only open certain types of restaurants in certain zip codes? Next thing you know they will be banishing clothing stores that offer plus sizes, as an incentive for the obese to lose weight. Ridiculous.

    8 Replies
    1. re: danhole

      The ban applies in a neighborhood that is notorious for having few food options other than fast food restaurants, is only for 1 year, and according to the article, "The yearlong moratorium is intended to give the city time to attract restaurants that serve healthier food." I don't see the problem with it, personally. Given the economy, I doubt fast food retailers are looking for expansion opportunities in any event.

      1. re: DanaB

        If your last statement's true--and I suspect it is--then why is a statute necessary?

        1. re: tatamagouche

          Perhaps it was more of a mandate for the City Council themselves to do the outreach to try to get a different kind of restaurant to open in those neighborhoods? According to the article, residents in the targetted neighborhoods are behind the effort to bring in a better variety of dining choices, so perhaps it also was the most politically expedient way to send the message to those constitutencies that the Council was doing something about the issue.

          1. re: DanaB

            To the extent that residents are truly involved, it's a lovely thought, and it will be interesting to see how much input they actually have. To the extent that they're not, isn't it sort of like saying "Let them eat cake"? If it's a poor neighborhood, the range of choices is, as mpalmer6c points out, bound to be narrow.

            What might be better would be to try to open some sort of community-oriented market in conjunction with Edible Schoolyards programs etc. I'm no longer really involved with Slowfood, but I was in the early days of its arrival in the US, and I know at the time they were doing stuff like going into schools and teaching kids how much you can do with, say, a can each of tomatoes, white beans, and tuna.

            1. re: tatamagouche

              Totally agree with the idea of community farms/markets. Unfortunately, the one community farm in the area was closed by a real estate magnate that saw the property as being more valuable for other uses, despite major community protests.

              More info can be found here:


              Hopefully, in the future, better options can be developed.

              1. re: DanaB

                What a shame. The greed of the haves prevails over the needs of the have-nots every time. Thanks for the info.

        2. re: DanaB

          It's a great idea.

          A nice gourmet pizza place, steak house or Cheesecake Factory should do wonders for the waistlines of residents.

          1. re: tastyjon

            I used to work in South Central LA (at the intersection of Florence and Firestone), and you've never seen such a dearth of food, regardless of whether it was good, bad or ugly. I was working in the building where the City Council member had an office, and the building had the offices of several other city services, i.e. it was a "destination" in the area. There was NO food of any kind in walking distance, and within 10-15 minute driving distance, the only place I could find to buy food was a Subway. There were not any local little holes in the wall, there were not any taco trucks. There was simply NOTHING TO EAT. There was one bbq place, but that was a 15 minute drive in the other direction. In a swatch of land in which thousands of people lived, there was NO food, not even grocery stores. When I worked there, it was the mid-90s. Since then, more food service providers have moved in, but they are all fast food purveyors. I don't think you have any notion or idea of the neighborhoods that are being addressed by the LA City Council with the fast food moratorium if you would make such a flippant comment as the "Cheesecake Factory" one. In that part of the city, if a Cheesecake Factory opened, it would be a cause for celebration.

      2. oh THANK you nanny state!

        1. Got to love the Nanny State. Next will be waiter/waitress monitors to ensure you don't order something "bad" for you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jjbourgeois

            What happened to freedom to choose? I made the choice to eat at Whataburger every morning, and various fast food spots for lunch, and more junk for dinner, and my MD told me I was going to die. Now I've made the choice not to eat this garbage and I lost alot of weight, all the same places are still there, and more. I drive by them every day and it is my choice what to eat, not the governments.

          2. They need the space for more lottery and liquor stores. LA is where the crazy's are in charge of the asylum.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bkhuna

              You think this is bad?

              Mississippi Pols Seek To Ban Fats
              New bill would make it illegal for restaurants to serve the obese


            2. Gee, I wonder why there are so many fast-food places in a poor area?
              One of the criteria for a fast-food place here is an eatery without sit-down tables.
              So the city council thinks that, suddenly, poor people can go from the dollar menu to a place with waiters and a 15-dollar menu?

              6 Replies
              1. re: mpalmer6c

                When you have a large impoverished area, you have a problem attracting ANY kind of development. Nobody's calling for any kind of fancy restaurant investment. However, you'd just think that in a down economy, especially, people could come up with something better than a new McDonald's on every corner. There was a story on NPR recently that debunked the previously assumed "fact" that people in less affluent neighborhoods would not have the income to support businesses. The facts are, they have the money and would spend it, if any major retailer would take the chance and invest in the neighborhoods.

                1. re: DanaB

                  They did. All of the fast food restaurants that are now being decried. Check the San Francisco neighborhoods where they've banned chains; they didn't get "Mom and Pop" after "Mom and Pop" cute little places with great prices and Chowish food. They got empty store fronts. Unless they've actually got a plan to, say, provide grants/loans to local people who want to open restaurants or food stores that meet whatever nutritional guidelines are important to meet this week, simply telling one "type" of place (always difficult to define that "type," too) that they're not allowed to do business here isn't going to get you what you want. It just gets rid of what you think you don't want.

                  Attracting more diverse restaurants, restaurants that serve "healthier" food and a range of options in a neighborhood is a great goal. I've yet to see any plan put forth by a locality that has banned chains or fast food or whatever else seemed a good target at the time that would do that. There seems to be a feeling that if only we could get rid of McDonald's fabulous restaurants would open every month. Its bad planning.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    If you read the article on the LA moratorium, it includes both a GOAL by the Council to bring in better restaurants, and MONEY behind it, i.e. "The city's Community Redevelopment Agency has developed a package of incentives designed to attract more restaurants serving healhier food to inner-city neighborhoods. Perks include assistance in finding parcels of land, low-interest loans, matching funds for burying utility lines, discounted electricity rates, and tax credits."

                    Nobody said it would be easy, and nobody thinks that banning McD's will bring in better restaurants. LA has recognized that to bring better food options to the neighborhoods in question, they are going to have to WORK at it. My experience working in these neighborhoods, as I stated above, is that NOBODY wants to invest there. The big $$ corporations were freaked out after the riots in the 1960s, and had only just begun to come back in the late 80s when the riots of 1992 happened, and then businesses just decided NOT to invest in the inner city communities, at all. So, yeah, I am behind the City Council for trying to do something to reverse this trend. Whether people think it's "nanny" government, or otherwise, the City Council sees a large part of their constituency that needs better services from the private sector, and they are attempting to do something about it. I commend them for it.

                    1. re: DanaB

                      Normally I'm not in favor of subsidized-type restaurants but I wonder how it would work out if a healthyish restaurant, say Tender Greens, worked together with the city government to develop a slightly cheaper more streamlined version of their restaurant. Maybe the city could lease the spaces, and the restaurant could run the food part. It would be interesting to see if after a year, the community would support this type of endeavor, which would also help local employment.

                      1. re: DanaB

                        A much better plan, then. Thanks for the reminder to actually read things before spouting off.

                        I'm still, sadly, incredibly skeptical, though I do hope the attempt pays off. Reading the list of restaurants that are exempt (and not places I consider "healthy" by nature...insofar as a poorly chosen meal at Subway can be worse than a reasonably chosen meal at McDonald's for instance) and the definitions they're working with for "fast food" it doesn't seem to me to necessarily keep out the unhealthy food and bring in the healthy.

                        But, it could be a start. And, as uncomfortable as I am with increasingly intrusive government, I'm less uncomfortable with a local government making local decisions for local people as a part of a thought out plan to try to take things the direction they want in their community.

                        Who decides what's "healthy" though and who decides what constitutes enough choice? These are going to be very difficult questions to answer.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          Yeah, I really don't get all this "nanny state" hollering. They're zoning regs with community planning behind it. Local governements do this kind of thing all the time. I don't get what the uproar is about.