The Fast Food Ban Is Music to My Ears

I just can't think of a reason another fast food place would make Leimert Park or South Los Angeles a better place. I've read blog post after rant and whine - in no particular order - that says creating zoning regulations to control land use in a city is unAmerican and part of some nanny state that white liberals are try push on the poor minorities.

Well for our national audience, most of the City Council is of color, including the mayor and Councilwoman Jan Perry. I won’t argue liberal – but the voters put them there.

But, more to the point, cities enforce zoning laws everyday on where you can locate bars, play amplified music, open an auto shop.

Joe Hicks of the LA Times admits as much: “Some argue that the moratorium simply mirrors zoning ordinances in more upscale parts of the city that have limited the proliferation of fast-food operations.” Then he blasts Councilwoman Jan Perry for her leadership role on this issue and calls it meddling. Isn’t that why we have a government in place – to protect its citizens?

Council members are asked everyday to support business people building something. In the case of fast food they are saying, this is not something we need more of in this particular community. They don’t serve the greater good.

David Sloane of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development (where I work) was interviewed on “All Things Considered” about the proposed moratorium on new fast food restaurants in one Los Angeles district. “Fast food is more and more seen by many people as a nuisance,” Sloane said. “And nuisances have been regulated by governments for centuries.”

They don’t serve the greater good whether you are talking about health or economics. McDonald’s, which gave me my first job at 15, and other burger joints do hire a lot of part-time workers, but they pay minimum wage with very few opportunities to move up. There could be a lot worse uses for the lot – including the one built by my house about 4 years ago – I think it used to be an out-of-business auto shop. But let’s try to get something in there that’s better.

Let's count the McDonald's within 3 miles of my house on Sutro:
1. Arlington and King opened about a year ago.
2. Crenshaw and 43rd
3. Vermont and King
4. Crenshaw Plaza
5. La Brea and King
6. Slauson and Western
7. Slauson and Vermont
8. Crenshaw and Adams
9. California Science Center
10. Chevron at King and Figueroa

About there are already 400 or so fast-food outlets in the area generally known as South Los Angeles.

So this is an experiment for a year. We need the city council to start encouraging businesses to take a chance on the area – to look at the prevalence of their favorite color – GREEN - that is theirs for the taking. Magic Johnson did and has a movie theater, TGI Fridays and a perhaps a half-dozen Starbuck’s (even though two recently closed) – all in South Los Angeles.

Residents in South Los Angeles spend more than $400 million a year outside of the city, A CB Richard Ellis study concluded. $400 MILLION would support 1.5 million square feet of new retail in our area.

It looks like Perry is already trying. A Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market location will be built as part of an 80-unit apartment complex at Adams and Central. Ground was broken last month. No offense – but if you can put one of those Trader Joe’s-like grocers at Adams and Central you can put one in the Leimert Park Village. We do need more innovative ideas that use a carrot to bring businesses – until then preserving business corridors for business that will serve the community is a bright idea.

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