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Morning Brief: LA’s Zoning Laws, Combating Local Misinformation, And Celebrating Black-Owned Restaurants

A view from above shows tract homes in Fontana, California, in the foreground and rows of white warehouse behind them.
A 2018 photo shows homes in Fontana set next to white warehouses.
(Andrew Cullen
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Good morning, L.A. It’s March 3.

Poll after poll shows that affordable housing is one of the top issues of concern among Angelenos. People are being priced out of their homes at alarming rates, and the problem greatly exacerbates our growing population of people who are unhoused. 

Sometimes it seems like there are as many contributing factors as there are people seeking to resolve the issue. My colleague David Wagner reports on one of the major, systemic problems: zoning laws.

The phrase “zoning laws” might make you zone right out, but conversations on housing would be hollow without mention of the historically inequitable areas of legislation. According to a new study, 78% of residential land in greater L.A. is reserved for single-family homes, meaning that apartment buildings and other more affordable options can’t be built there.

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Individuals and families who don’t have down payments ready or who can’t afford a mortgage, then, are summarily excluded from these areas, which results in the neighborhoods being whiter and wealthier, with better outcomes for children who live there.

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“It's much harder for people of color — who don't have generational wealth, who can't afford down payments, who don't have parents who can assist because their parents are themselves low income and poor and maybe don't have a retirement — to buy into these neighborhoods,” said Stephen Menendian, the Othering and Belonging Institute’s director of research, who co-authored the study.

Various activist groups and politicians have pushed for updates to L.A. and California’s zoning laws, but progress has been incremental. Menendian and his co-authors hope their report will spark change.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go ... The Legacy Of LA's Black-Owned Restaurants

A group stands outside Daddy Grants Old Time Pit Barbecue restaurant on Washington Boulevard.
A group stands outside Daddy Grants Old Time Pit Barbecue restaurant on Washington Boulevard. From left, an employee, Clara Grant, and Lemuel "Daddy" Grant.
(Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library)

L.A.’s food scene is a source of deep pride among many Angelenos, and its long history of Black-owned restaurants can be traced back to at least 1888. LAist contributor Hadley Meares writes that some such eateries are detailed in all their gastronomic glory in books like Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America and Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, as well as newspapers and collections from the time.

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