Doubling Down on L.A. Zoning Bans

We told you last week about a study from the California-based RAND Corporation which found that the fast food zoning ban in South Los Angeles was based on questionable premises. The July 2008 ban, which prohibited new fast food outlets from opening for a year, was derived from the idea that overweight Angelenos needed government intervention to help them stop ordering from the dollar menu. The RAND study’s authors instead argue that menu labeling is “likely to have a bigger impact on overweight and obesity.” (Perhaps they’d like to revise their suggestion given the new research finding that New York City’s labeling law doesn’t work.) Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that local activists (including a City Council member), not satisfied that their initial social experiment with zoning didn’t work, are pushing an even stricter proposal targeting small convenience stores:

The Los Angeles City Council is set to consider a proposal that would limit the density of these small food stores in South Los Angeles, said Councilwoman Jan Perry, a proponent of regulations adopted last year establishing a moratorium on new openings of fast-food restaurants whose 9th District includes much of South Los Angeles.
The proposal, part of the developing Southeast Los Angeles Community Plan, would prohibit such small neighborhood markets from being closer than one-half mile from one another unless they sold fresh fruit and vegetables.

This logic is especially farcical given that South Los Angeles banned the development of a supercenter store that would have brought low-cost vegetables to the area. Having the government pick and choose what stores can open up hasn’t had good effects for Angelenos.
L.A.’s food cops have already showed that they’re willing to persecute food vendors who serve bacon-wrapped hot dogs and taco truck operators. Perhaps gas stations are next on the list. Or pretzel carts. Or the ice cream man. You get the picture.

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