Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zoning Out Fast Food

Notre Dame law student Allyson C. Spacht has published her note "The Zoning Diet: Using Restrictive Zoning to Shrink American Waistlines" at 85 Notre Dame L. Rev. 391.

An excerpt (cites ommitted):

In July 2008, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) "designed to address the imbalance in food options currently available in South Los Angeles." The ordinance proposes a one-year moratorium on new fast food restaurants in the South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills, and Leimert Park community planning areas. The ordinance defines a fast food restaurant as "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." The ICO was drafted and passed in order to provide a strong and competitive commercial sector which best serves the needs of the community, attract uses which strengthen the economic base and expand market opportunities for existing and new businesses, enhance the appearance of commercial districts, and identify and address the over-concentration of uses which are detrimental to the health and welfare of the people of the community.

The goal of the ICO is to allow city planners to analyze the quantity of fast food restaurants in these communities and to develop solutions to combat the extreme imbalance that has resulted in these areas from decades of spot zoning and neglect in community planning and development. With minimal land remaining for development in these areas, the ICO allows city planners to determine what types of businesses best suit a community with the highest incidence of diabetes in the county and an obesity rate that is nine percent above the county average. The ICO enables council members to actively attract healthier options to these communities, including grocery stores and sit-down restaurants, by preserving the limited existing land for such uses. Councilwoman Jan C. Perry, author of the ICO, and fellow supporters of the ordinance argue that "making healthy decisions about food is difficult when people have small incomes, the grocery store is five miles away and a $ 1 cheeseburger is right around the corner." The ICO serves as just one of the many planning tools the Los Angeles City Council hopes to employ "'to attract sit-down restaurants, full service grocery stores, and healthy food alternatives... in an aggressive manner.'"

I've been aware of the lack of access to quality food in lower income urban areas, but this is the first I've heard of an attempt to zone fast food out of inner city areas and bring in grocery stores and better dining alternatives.

Jamie Baker Roskie

California, Development, Food, Local Government, Planning, Zoning | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Zoning Out Fast Food:


There has been some noise in Prince George's County, MD, about doing something similar. I don't know if it's gotten to the drafting stage yet.

Posted by: James Lawlor | Feb 11, 2010 10:41:55 AM