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A new community plan for the West Adams, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park and Hyde Park communities is proposing to roll back current limits on the number of stand-alone fast food restaurants in Council District 10 for up to 20 years.

In 2008, the City Council passed an ordinance restricting new fast food restaurants from being constructed within 0.5 miles of an existing fast food restaurant.

The restrictions do not ban fast food restaurants, but they do help prevent over-concentration. Since the restrictions were put into place, seven new grocery stores have opened in South L.A. According to the Community Health Councils (CHC), the proposed exemption threatens to crowd out local businesses and limit choices for the community.

According to recently released public health data, between 2007 and 2009, South L.A. experienced a 2.2 percent reduction in the number of adults who consumed fast food four to five times a week. In addition, between 2007 and 2011, obesity rates in South L.A. decreased by nearly 3 percent (from 35.4 to 32.7 percent), the largest decrease in obesity rates in L.A. County. With this reduction, South L.A. no longer has the highest obesity rate in the county.

Similarly, diabetes rates in South L.A. decreased by more than 2 percent (from 13.9-11.7 percent) between 2007 and 2011.

South L.A. transitioned from being the community with the highest rate of diabetes in the county to having the third highest rates of diabetes. Although a reduction in fast food restaurants is certainly not the only factor contributing to this decrease in negative nutrition-related health behaviors and health outcomes, evidence suggests the changes in the food retail environment facilitated by South L.A.’s fast food regulations and other policy initiatives may have played a role.

Community stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their opinion on the new community plan. They are asked to attend and provide testimony at the City Planning Commission hearing on April 11, 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, 200 N. Spring, Room 340.

They may also let Council President Herb Wesson know their views on the fast food limitations throughout CD 10 by writing him or calling (213) 485-9829.

CHC is a nonprofit, community-based health education and policy organization established in 1992 to promote social justice and achieve equity in community and environmental resources for underserved populations.