Friday, June 23, 2006

Fast food and land use laws ...

   A New York City councilman wants to use zoning laws to restrict sharply the number of fast-food restaurants in Manhattan.  Using land use laws to control the spread of chain restaurants is nothing new (see a New York story from 1985), but the current goal is different from most:  The councilman wants to fight obesity, especially among young and poor people, who eat in disproportionate numbers at the fried food factories.  Although I may applaud the goal, using land use laws to fight the nation's obesity problem seems to be using the wrong tool -- just as using school busing to try to create a more racially just society (meanwhile, there was not much far effort to integrate by housing) may have used the wrong tool to deal with a bedrock social problem.

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