L.A. Wants a Year-Long Ban on Fast Food

Check this out: L.A. Wants to Clamp Yearlong Ban on Fast Food.

The ban only affects South L.A.—the “poor side of town.” The goal of the moratorium?

The aim of the yearlong moratorium, which won full support from a City Council committee last week, is to give the city time to try to attract restaurants that serve healthier food.

My question: what good is it going to do if people won’t eat at these places? People eat what they like and what they can afford. Besides, if this area is economically depressed, there’s not going to be a lot of “nice” restaurants that want to risk locating in the area.

Instead of this silliness, why don’t they start a massive education campaign? Teach people how to eat instead of treating them like animals. Pair up with Weight Watchers and educate people on how to evaluate meals based on points, which is quite enlightening.

25 thoughts on “L.A. Wants a Year-Long Ban on Fast Food”

  1. My goodness, that’s dumb. Eating out can be (and is usually) bad for you at any restaurant, even if it has a wait staff. Conversely, you can order a reasonably well-balanced meal at a fast food restaurant if you know what you’re doing.

    I’m not saying I agree with infringing on people’s rights to eat what they like, but in order for it to have the end they claim is the goal, they should be regulating what is served at all restaurants – not discriminating solely against fast food restaurants.

  2. Here’s a great idea that is just as intelligent as banning fast food.
    Why don’t we create a national fast-food license that only “fit” people with healthy cholesterol levels can obtain? Then we can create a new government bureaucracy to monitor the licenses. We can call it the “Homeland Security against Fatties.”
    Once established, they can declare the “war on lard butts” and begin raiding Krispy Kremes and Duncan Doughnuts stores nationwide in an attempt to catch over-weight patrons eating cholesterol laden food without a license to do so. We can call the raiding enforcers,” ICE “(Imgonna Catch you Eating) and give them power to change the Constitution at will should it aid them in ridding America of Lard Azzes.
    Then moveon.org and the ACLU can organize a grass roots campaign called “SAFE” (Save the Fat-Azzes Eating) and sue the tar out of the companies that require that patrons actually have the license to eat their fast food. However, if your an illegal alien whoops, an undocumented worker, this law won’t apply to you 🙂

  3. this blows my mind. when will the line be drawn? the government continues to overstep its bounds expressed in the constitution through “loose interpretation”, opaque-legislation (bill piggy-backing), and basic “slight of hand” technique. My heart cries for this country.

  4. This might be the silliest thing I’ve ever heard about in my life…
    The MARKET should drive when and where businesses choose to operate…
    Silly, just silly…

  5. Jeremy, please yes, let’s get this over with and kick us out of the union, but we’ll take Vegas, Tahoe, Oregon, and Washington with us. Thanks.

  6. I’ve been saying this on my political forums for awhile: We need to regionalize the US. The federal government is way too big to be effective (in terms of services and geography!) Too many people east of here (in my case, Washington State) make decisions I regard as absolutely asinine. Folks from other areas of the country think things like this are asinine. Frankly, I agree on this issue. The difference is, however, that on the majority of issues I more closely side with states in the local region than the national opinion.

  7. “Teach people how to eat instead of treating them like animals.”
    “People eat what they like and what they can afford.”

    There are two assumptions here. First, the assumption that these people don’t know how to make healthy choices. Second, the assumption that food choice is based solely on preference, and price.

    In a “rich” country such as the United States, the food you eat is indeed a result of choices. But once one adjusts for groups of a class, those choices are limited — by price, as was mentioned, and *availability*.

    In poor neighborhoods like the one in question in LA, there are few grocery stores and few healthy food options. There are plenty of fast food joints. The availability side of the equation is what the council is trying to address.

    More than likely, you own a fine automobile that can ferry you between any number of well-stocked grocery stores, farmer’s markets, produce stands, and delis in your area. This is a position of privilege. The people in poor neighborhoods often work two, or three jobs, leaving little time to prepare food from scratch. They often have no reliable transportation to visit healthier stores in other neighborhoods.

    When someone is working three jobs, has no reliable transportation, and no healthy food options in their area, the suggestion that they would eat better if they only knew about Weight Watchers is what I would call Not Understanding The Problem.

    What the council is doing is creating a need. The area already has fast, cheap, unhealthy food options. Suppressing further fast cheap food options is creating a situation where the consumer has a need (to eat) but nowhere to satisfy this need quickly and cheaply. The hope being that businesses will see this need, and fill it.

    Yes, they generalize fast food options as unhealthy, and they deserve criticism for that. The council didn’t force a grocery store to open in that area. They are not forcing existing fast food restaurants to close. They did not decree that fresh produce MUST be available, in season, and businesses MUST carry it. What they are doing is ingenious, even if one disagrees with the particulars of implementation. They are creating a need that “the market” can fill.

  8. If the government must get involved, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to sponsor a farmer’s market or community gardens? If people want cheap, convenient food, then they will get it from convenience stores if fast-food isn’t available. If the goal is to provide options for healthy eating, then just banning fast food doesn’t cut it because plenty of sit-down restaurants offer unhealthy choices, too.

  9. I’ve never been a fan of Weight Watchers point system. Plus education doesn’t impact either of the two factors you state – people eat what they like and what they can afford.

    Jeremy, don’t kick us out. Our weather is too good.

  10. Typical liberal nanny-state garbage. Telling people how to live their lives because they don’t want to let people be responsible for themselves and suffer the consequences. People, by nature, are lazy and greedy. No amount of education is going to change most people. If education was key, why do people still smoke and why do we still have an AIDS problem?

  11. @Preston,

    I agree with what you’re saying. If only we could divide the US into about 4 dozen or so independent “regions” (as you describe them) that have their own local government and were left to decide most things themselves. Also, it would help if there were some sort of “Bill of Rights” that limited the scope of the federal government’s power, and then maybe there could be something at the end of it about leaving everything else up to the states. If only the founding fathers had foreseen that there would be regional differences and created a mechanism for them to govern themselves independently.


    What is your problem here? This article is about a proposal for a LOCAL ban, and you say you agree with it. You’d like to be separated from the people you disagree with, but from what you say it sounds like you are. I flatly disagree with it, but I don’t live in LA (CO FYI) so who cares? If you people want to decree that ice cream serves no health benefits, and ban ice cream trucks because of their “predatory” and enchanting music targeted at our youth, then go ahead. I’ll be over here enjoying a Sundae.

  12. Although I do not agree with the council, they are trying to get at the root cause of this problem. Not that people are lazy, greedy, only like to eat bad food, but that in low income areas access is a REAL problem. Everyone does not have a car that provides them access to multiple food outlets, nor do all people live in areas where multiple food outlets are available by bus, walking or other forms of public/non-car transportation. Pretty obvious by the comments that many responders have not lived in an area with limited access. I live in an area that would be considered “limited in access” however I have a car so I am able to shop where I want – i.e. get healthy foods!

  13. Forgot to add – if the council really wants to improve eating habits/health they should encourage farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Only then will you be able to discern people’s true preferences (i.e. will they continue to eat fast food or were they only eating it because that was all that was available).

  14. @Christina,

    Are you (and others) trying to say that this ban is necessary because most of these people’s only access to food is a Taco Bell? So we need government to shutdown this Taco Bell, which along with the Mcdonalds that will be shutdown, is their SOLE source of food? In that case, this is an abomination! They are taking away their only source of food! Somehow I doubt that this is the case. If someone is poor enough that they have to work three jobs and don’t have a car, they better not be eating out at all.

    I’m pretty sure everyone in LA can get to a grocery store by bike or bus at least. If there really are these huge communities without a single grocery store, and they are completely reliant on fast food due to “limited access,” tell me where. Perhaps I and several other commenters will decide to pool our resources and open a store in a place with such a market opportunity.

    The justification that this is for poor people is just an excuse. Poor people, as JLP pointed out, won’t be eating out at a nice new, healthy restaurant in South LA. The city has the mentality that they know what’s best for you, and you aren’t capable of making your own decisions. It’s as simple as that.

  15. @ David B.

    I actually said in my first comment that I don’t agree with the ban – particularly because it is targeting the wrong thing. There are areas, believe it or not, that do not have much more than a corner convenience store (which generally rip you off) and fast food restaurants. This ban isn’t taking away their only access to food – as there are many fast food restaurants already. The aim, I think, is to reduce the amount of fast food restaurants versus healthier food restaurants. But again – I don’t agree with the ban for multiple reasons: (1) it doesn’t encourage entry of supermarkets and farmer’s markets (to purchase fresh, healthy food), (2) people who are going to fast food restaurants for convenience probably do not have the time or the money to go to a sit down restaurant and (3) sit down restaurants are unlikely to enter these types of markets because the people generally can not afford to eat at these places OR a $.99 hamburger is more appealing than a lower fat $5 hamburger.

    As for LA – I don’t know about access to grocery stores, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence (newpaper articles, etc). But I live in DC and I can tell you there are neighborhoods for which reaching a grocery store is a long bike or transit ride (time consuming and expensive – too major constraints). For those working three jobs, I doubt they have the time to make that trip. If access wasn’t an issue there wouldn’t be so much research coming out about it.

    Here is an article about the first grocery store in Ward 8 in DC – the least advantaged ward in DC which is “cut-off” from the rest of DC by the Anacostia River. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/30/AR2007113002617.html If you need more evidence you can check out the Census County Business Patterns by county and zip code.

    As for the city thinking it knows what is best for the people that live there – I don’t know and its not the point I am arguing – but if that is an issue for you then you can choose not to live there. Again – I don’t agree with the ban, but there is an underlying issue that someone should be looking into.

  16. @Christina,

    I disagree with the ban on principle, and I also don’t believe that it is government’s job to decide what restaurants to put where. If these people didn’t want to buy fast food, they would go out of business. No government intervention required. That is how the location and types of restaurants should be decided. If people want a big grocery store, someone, somewhere will be willing to fill that market need. The article you linked is a good example of that.

    I found the article to be a good example of the power of private enterprise. It seems that many of the areas issues were resolved once the mayor turned over a piece of land to private business for development. Interestingly, some of the same people that were complaining about not having a nearby grocery store are now complaining about their nostalgic old public housing being gone.I guess they want a grocery store that will hover above them in the sky!

    More to your points, I would be okay with some sort of encouragement for farmer’s markets and the like, if that means allowing some part of the city that was previously government land to be developed privately. Aside from that, I’d be interested to know what sort of “encouragement” you have in mind. However, I am strongly against government telling every Mcdonalds in an area that they don’t like their product and they have to leave. The community should decide that, with their pocketbooks.

    Thanks for your response and your thoughts on an issue I hadn’t thought about before.

  17. I think if you dig a little deeper into the background of this “fast food ban”, it is less about protecting poor residents of south central LA from the evils of fast food than it is about protecting the existing restaurants from having competition from new restaurants. That is, local business persons in the area are using local politicians and “community organizations” to keep new businesses from opening up in the area. Unhealthy fast food is only the pretense that the politicians and community activists are using.

  18. Obviously, none of you live here. This ban was proposed and backed by a local organization that has also successfully proposed other bans, like reducing the number of liquor stores in the area. There is no “government interference”, the ban was asked for by the locals and the city is just making it into law as requested.

    When local people decide that they want more choices and they want access to better things in their own neighborhood, then government should do what it can to support the will of the people. There isn’t anything wrong with that.

  19. @KitKat,

    Yes, that is indeed government interference, and it is not good public policy.

    The fact a ban was necessary, demonstrates that it was not the will of the people. If the people truly didn’t want fast food, they wouldn’t buy it! Those places would go out of business. Without the government ban, these restaurants would continue their business with willing customers who wanted the service they are providing. For government to tell the participants of a voluntary interaction like this that they are no longer allowed to exchange what each of them desires at a mutually agreed upon price, is wrong and goes against the freedom of individuals in this country.

    What you suggest is a command and control economy in which a government bureaucracy decides what businesses should be allowed and where. That is an incredibly inefficient economic policy. The only way to know what “the people” want is to let supply and demand decide. Entrepeneurs will “supply” whatever it is that the people “demand.” If that turns out to be healthy restaurants, then I’m all for it. Howerver, a ban eliminating the freedom of these franchise and business owners to make a living by providing a service that people continually want and use, is wrong.

  20. I usually avoid fast food cause it makes me crash, but the other night I went to McDonals. I don’t think I have been there (other than for a sundae at the drive thru) in 2 years. Anyway I wanted McNuggets and fries – they were so good. I probably won’t eat them again for two years, but I did enjoy those few moments of guilty pleaure. But the service was the usual slowness, another reason I stay away from fast food restaurants.

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