Council considers restrictions on fast food restaurants in South LA

The Los Angeles City Council will decide today whether to ban new "stand-alone" fast food establishments from opening within a half-mile of existing establishments in South Los Angeles.

The plan is to alter the neighborhood design guidelines for West Adams- Baldwin Hills-Leimert-South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles area. It follows the September expiration of a two-year moratorium on the opening of new fast food establishments in the same area.

"With the alarmingly high rates of diet-related health problems such as obesity and diabetes in South Los Angeles, these restrictions are fair, common-sense way of providing South L.A. residents additional food choices that exist in West L.A. and other parts of the city," Councilman Bernard Parks, who represents parts of South Los Angeles, said earlier this week.

Councilwoman Jan Perry added, that "Westwood and Venice have community design guidelines for new construction and renovations; South Los Angeles deserves the same."

In its report to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, officials of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission noted that "limited service or fast food establishments compromise 71.8 percent of the establishments in South Los Angeles, compared to 40.8 percent of West Los Angeles establishments and 47.7 percent of Los Angeles County establishments."

"In addition, South Los Angeles has fewer grocery stores and traditional sit-down establishments, thereby limiting the opportunity to grocery shop and prepare a meal at home, or dining at a full service establishment," it added.

Under the proposed guidelines, new stand-alone fast food establishments would no longer be able to obtain permits and other approvals by right, but must obtain approval by meeting several criteria, including staying at least half a mile away from existing establishments.

They would also have to comply with aesthetic requirements on landscaping, provide rear parking, and other requirements aimed at ensuring the compatibility of the project with the surrounding community.

The proposed guidelines do not apply to fast-food establishments in so-called "mixed-use projects."