Planners Reboot Public Health Efforts in South Los Angeles

A law passed to combat obesity and diabetes in South Los Angeles by slowing the proliferation of fast food restaurants has done little to change the landscape of the area.

Read Time: 1 minute

May 11, 2015, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


According to an article by Angel Jennings and Doug Smith, mounting evidence shows that the Los Angeles City Council's ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles has so far failed to achieve its intended benefits. As a result, write Jennings and Smith, "leaders and thinkers are again scrutinizing the role restaurants of all kinds play or could play in this historically troubled cluster of largely low-income neighborhoods."

The scrutiny of the law follows a RAND Corp. study finding that obesity rates have risen since the law was enacted. Also, Los Angeles Times analysis shared in the article shows the restaurant and food market hasn't changed. According to the article, "[t]he ordinance has fallen short of its goal in part because it only prohibits new stand-alone restaurants, and not those that are willing to operate in strip malls or shopping centers."

The article provides a lot more detail about the market conditions in South Los Angeles and includes commentary from planners and policy wonks discussing ways to improve on the existing law and also to locate other laws and practices that might have more influence of public health outcomes. As an initial case study of planning and public health policy working together, South Los Angeles will continue to provide a national example.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015 in Los Angeles Times

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