«Contesting the streets Volume 18, number 1 • 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research ...»
Future studies can improve the understanding of sidewalk vending as a commercial activity and component of the environment with access to a broader school and student sample and more detailed transaction data. Single observation periods of four elementary schools provide a small picture of the vendor transactions that occur in each community. Assessing a greater proportion of school environments in each jurisdiction and conducting repeated observations at each location has the potential to reveal more consistent trends and clearer relationships. Including more jurisdictions in the assessment can also provide additional comparison opportunities based on differing regulatory and socioeconomic factors.
Studies that can coordinate with willing vendors and ample observer staffing have the potential to gather data that more directly measure the nutrition content of snacks and beverages purchased by students and caretakers. The current political sensitivity of the issue made it difficult to reach out to vendors for purposes of research. Tracking sales for individual vendors and, perhaps, the
purchase history of segmented consumer groups can help determine the proportion of students who are only supplementing their daily nutrition needs through vendor snacks and beverages and those who may be skewing their diets toward the more acute end of caloric overconsumption.
Gathering primary data at the point of sale would also provide more reliable information on sidewalk vendor transactions than what can be gathered through survey responses. Although classroom surveys employed by this assessment were helpful in outlining a general student perception of the off-campus nutrition environment, answers regarding individual purchases and preferences were subject to recall fatigue and respondent bias.
Conclusion Reforming the regulatory environment of sidewalk vending offers an opportunity to focus closer on the food access challenges that students and caretakers in South Los Angeles face. To address the child obesity epidemic locally, a comprehensive policy and programmatic approach is evolving that includes restrictions on the proliferation of unhealthy food sources (for example, fast-food density limitations) and development initiatives to scale the presence of healthier food sources (for example, corner store conversions, nutrition benefits matching, food retail financing initiatives).
Both approaches have implications for the regulation of sidewalk vending.
Although vendors in many areas make authentic and valued contributions to the city’s emergent food culture, observations confirmed that students and caretakers represent a market niche that is served by vendors largely with unhealthy snack and beverage choices. Survey evidence suggests that a large majority of elementary school students in South Los Angeles participate in this market on a regular basis. Although exercise can mitigate some of the negative health effects from these snack and beverage purchases, in many cases they are contributing to varying degrees of caloric overconsumption (Goetz and Wolstein, 2007). The continued prohibition of this sidewalk vending mode in proximity to school campuses should, therefore, be a distinct consideration within the wider legalization of sidewalk vending. New permitting structures that would be implemented with these regulatory reforms may also include revenue sources that can be allocated for more consistent enforcement. If this funding were applied with student nutrition as a primary concern (as opposed to with business as a major concern), it could make school-proximal regulations of sidewalk vending more effective than yet seen.
Our findings should encourage policymakers to consider avenues that promote, even mandate, the selling of healthier food near schools. Vendors who elect to sell healthy food provide a compelling justification for allowing approved modes of sidewalk vending near schools that complement campus-based nutrition efforts. Definitions of “healthy vending” can vary based on cultural perceptions, but an enforceable definition agreeable to nutrition and vendor advocates and food regulators would likely commence with a minimum of drinking water, raw fruits and vegetables, and packaged “smart snacks.”15 Research suggests that this type of health-oriented sidewalk vendor can be sustained independently (Tester, Yen, and Laraia, 2012), but their economic prospects could The USDA Food and Nutrition Service provides guidance for “smart snack” nutrition standards, to which distributors are increasingly adapting.
be significantly enhanced if granted exclusive access to a regulated environment near schools, offered other regulatory incentives (for example, fee waivers, permit expediting), and supported by a public or philanthropic vendor incubation initiative.
The assessment’s data on student nutrition behaviors do provide outlines of a multifaceted food resource environment containing multiple challenges to healthy eating. Based on the patronage rates indicated in student surveys, addressing the presence and product offerings of fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and ice cream trucks operating near schools, all of which are larger sources of nonnutritious snacks and sugary beverages, may be more imperative than considering the nutrition impacts of sidewalk vending.
Acknowledgments This research was supported by funding from a REACH Partners in Health Demonstration Grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. The authors thank steering committee participants and student and community assessors for their contributions.
Authors Robert Baird is a policy analyst for food systems and land use at Community Health Councils, Inc.
David C. Sloane is a professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California.
Gabriel N. Stover is the Director of Research and Evaluation at Community Health Councils, Inc.
Gwendolyn Flynn is a policy director for nutrition resources development at Community Health Councils, Inc.
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122 Contesting the Streets
Point of Contention:
Declining Homeownership For this issue’s Point of Contention, we asked scholars with substantial knowledge of the topic to argue for or against the following proposition—“By 2050, the U.S. homeownership rate, currently about 64 percent of households, will have fallen by at least 20 percentage points.” Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest other thoughtprovoking areas of controversy.
America’s homeownership rate has been drifting steadily downward since 2004, when it reached its historic peak of more than 69 percent. By 2010, the rate had fallen to 66.9 percent1 and, by 2015, it fell further to 63.4 percent. According to the Urban Institute (Goodman, Pendall, and Zhu, 2015), Myers and Lee (2016), and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (2015), the homeownership rate will continue to fall during the next several years. But how far will it drop by mid-century? To answer this question, I review several trends that are poised to drive down homeownership rates, extrapolate trends to 2050, and offer implications for planning and policy.
Reasons for Declining Homeownership I count many reasons for declining homeownership rates. Without being exhaustive, they include more stringent mortgage underwriting requirements than seen in the middle 2000s (Chan, Haughwout, and Tracy, 2015); reduced confidence that homeownership will generate equity sufficient to justify the commitment (Randazzo, 2011);2 the desire to be mobile to move to new economic opportunities without having to sell a home first (The Council of Economic Advisors, 2014); stagnating median household income in real dollar terms (Kochhar, Fry, and Rohal, 2015);3 student debt loads that can make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage (Harney, 2015); and an increase in multigenerational households (Fry et al., 2014), which may dampen total new housing demand. In my view, these trends will be difficult to reverse.
These figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual Housing Vacancy Surveys, which report different homeownership rates than the decennial census. In 2010, for instance, the decennial census homeownership rate was 65.1 percent.
Randazzo challenged conventional wisdom that homeownership will automatically create wealth through equity appreciation over time. My observation is that prospective homeowners are coming to that conclusion on their own.
My interpretation of Kochhar, Fry, and Rohal is that, although median household income may be rising, the United States is becoming more bifurcated as fewer people below the median income level qualify to buy homes now than in the past because of their income.
Extrapolations I extrapolate homeownership trends from 2015 to 2050. Doing so, I divide households into those headed by a White non-Hispanic (hereafter, White) householder and all others whom I call New Majority householders. I use the term “New Majority” recognizing that, soon after 2040, most Americans will belong to minority race/ethnic populations.