Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry is launching the largest Big Mac attack the nation has ever seen.

Last year, Perry proposed a one-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles. She told the Business Journal last week she wants to make it permanent.

The ban, for which Perry has already gathered support, would prohibit new fast-food outlets in 32 square miles of the city, including Watts, Crenshaw and Baldwin Hills an area with perhaps hundreds of the restaurants.

The ban is intended to stop the proliferation of eateries that serve unhealthful food and save the remaining vacant land in the area for other development. It would be the largest such ban in the nation, according to experts familiar with such issues.

The ban, like the moratorium, would apply to eateries such as McDonald's, KFC and Taco Bell. Existing restaurants would be allowed to continue operating.

"What I hope happens is we make it a permanent ordinance, so we can continue our efforts to protect people's health in a permanent way," Perry said. "It's also a land-use issue. We don't want to lose whatever available land there is to activities that are detrimental to people's health."

Perry proposed up to a two-year moratorium in September, but by December had settled on a one-year moratorium. Now she wants it to be followed by a permanent ban.

There is precedent for cities regulating the fast-food business, at least partly based on public health concerns.

The cities of Calistoga in Northern California and Concord, Mass., for example, have banned new fast-food restaurants in parts of their cities. Health issues were cited, though both bans relied on traditional zoning issues, such as aesthetics, as a legal basis.

And New York City is banning artificial trans fats starting next month in all restaurant foods. The ban only targets a single ingredient, but is based on the scientific link between trans fat consumption and heart disease.

However, there has never been a wide-scale ban of this size. Perry wants it to apply to the portion of her district south of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and all of neighboring City Councilman Bernard Parks' district. It also includes a tiny section of City Councilman Ed Reyes' district. All in all, that comprises 700,000 L.A. residents living in 32 square miles.

Parks said he would support making the proposed one-year moratorium permanent.


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