Monday, September 10, 2007

Have you heard the one about top-down planning?

I admit to being too weak to pass this one up. The LA City Council has discovered fast-food zoning. From this morning's LA Times:
Limits proposed on fast-food restaurants ... Health concerns
are cited for a proposed moratorium on such eateries in South L.A., which has
the city's highest concentration of them.

As America gets fatter, policymakers are seeking creative
approaches to legislating health. They may have entered the school cafeteria --
and now they're eyeing your neighborhood.

Amid worries of an obesity epidemic and its related illnesses,
including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, Los Angeles
officials, among others around the country, are proposing to limit new fast-food
restaurants -- a tactic that could be called health zoning.

The City Council will be asked this fall to consider an up to
two-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South L.A., a part of the
city where fast food is at least as much a practicality as a

"The people don't want them, but when they don't have any
other options, they may gravitate to what's there," said Councilwoman Jan Perry,
who proposed the ordinance in June, and whose district includes portions of
South L.A. that would be affected by the plan.

In just one-quarter of a mile near USC on Figueroa Street,
from Adams Boulevard south, there are about 20 fast-food outlets."To be honest,
it's all we eat," Rey Merlan said one recent lunch hour at a Kentucky Fried
Chicken. "Everywhere, it's fast food everywhere."Merlan said it wasn't likely
that a limit on new restaurants would change peoples' habits, even though he
thinks it's a good idea.

A Times analysis of the city's roughly 8,200 restaurants found
that South Los Angeles has the highest concentration of fast-food eateries. Per
capita, the area has fewer eating establishments of any kind than the Westside,
downtown or Hollywood, and about the same as the Valley. But a much higher
percentage of those are fast-food chains. South L.A. also has far fewer grocery
stores. ...

... While limiting fast-food restaurants isn't a solution in
itself, it's an important piece of the puzzle," said Mark Vallianatos, director
of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College.

This is "bringing health policy and environmental policy
together with land use planning," he said. I think that's smart and it's
the wave of the future."

Nothing about the fact that sellers bet their livelihoods on providing what customers might want.

And who knew that the USC students are among the victims? Who new that Occidental College has a Center for Food and Justice? And nothing compares to the quote by Professor Vallianatos.

In the goofiness sweepstakes, the professors and the politcians continue to battle it out.