Society

West Hollywood Passes First Fur Ban in U.S.

| by Michael Allen

On Tuesday, West Hollywood, California's City Council voted to approve the first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of fur clothing within city limits.

The ordinance bans furs made from a fox, mink, rabbit, bear, seal or chinchilla. Clothing made from wool sheared from sheep is not affected by the ban, nor is furniture or leather goods. The council also adopted an exemption for “vintage” garments containing fur.

The five-member City Council voted 3-to-1 with one abstention to endorse the ordinance, which would take effect in 2013, said City Councilman John Heilman, who voted “no." The vote came shortly before 1 a.m., capping a contentious, hours-long debate.

“We made history. We’re the first place in the world, I believe, certainly the country, to take that step and ban fur,” said Ed Buck, an organizer of the local group 'Fur Free WeHo.'

Opponents predicted dire consequences for local retailers. They said nearly half of the 200 apparel stores in town sell at least some fur items, and that merchandise made with animal pelts is estimated to account for up to $2 million in revenues for those businesses each year.

“I am just so baffled by this. This is pure politics at its worst,” said Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council.

Contrary to the impression both sides initially gave that Tuesday’s action was final, city officials corrected themselves on Wednesday to clarify that final adoption and enactment requires yet another vote, expected to occur in two weeks.

The effective date of the measure was pushed back to September 21, 2013, from June 30, 2012, as originally proposed, in part because city officials want to conduct their own study on how the ordinance will affect businesses.