West Hollywood Looks to Ban Fur

Discussion
Sep 26, 2011

The City Council of West Hollywood voted unanimously last week to ban the sale of apparel made of fur. If approved in a final vote in October, the small city would reportedly become the first municipality in the country to adopt such a law.

The city of about 36,000 residents has a history of pioneering animal rights and other causes. In 2003, the city became the first in the country to ban cat declawing. Last year, it passed a law prohibiting the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops. It was also among the first to ban sales of inexpensive handguns known as Saturday Night Specials, and that is believed to have encouraged other cities to adopt a similar gun ban.

Although council members readily admit that an ample selection of furs will still be available blocks away in Beverly Hills, council members hope their pending ban likewise draws copycats.

"This is a tiny city, so it’s mostly symbolic," Councilman John D’Amico told The New York Times. "I think the impact will be heard from here to Fifth Avenue. People will talk about what a fur ban means in a new way."

"West Hollywood is really taking the lead," animal rights attorney Shannon Keith told London’s Telegraph. "The animals can’t speak for themselves and nobody should have to die for vanity."

Not suprisngly, the proposed ban, which excludes leather, has ruffled feathers in the fur trade.

Keith Kaplan, executive director of The Fur Information Council of America, told the Los Angeles Times that the move contradicts West Hollywood’s goal of establishing itself as a "fashion destination" since local stores can’t showcase a designer’s full collection. The proposed ban also didn’t take into account the impact on local businesses, he argued.

Genevieve Morrill, president and chief executive of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said local retailers are up in arms.

"We feel it’s not only unconstitutional but arbitrary and capricious, and it’s selectively banning products from one industry versus another," she told the LA Times.

What do you think of West Hollywood’s proposed fur ban?

Discussion Questions: Should municipalities be able to ban the sale of products that may be legally sold under county, state and/or federal law?

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18 Comments on "West Hollywood Looks to Ban Fur"


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Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Sure. Happens all the time, as the story points out. With some people, however, the fur debate is as emotional as the abortion debate. So this will generate lots of press, with most of the argument not about whether selling fur should be illegal, but about the morality of using fur from animals in the first place. I don’t wear fur because it’s expensive, ostentatious (at least to me) and I confess to always thinking about the animal.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

This could have been pioneering 20 years ago but now? Not so much; when’s the last time you saw a furrier?

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

If West Hollywood is truly acting on its residents’ preferences, it should be free to make an anti-fur move. Without drawing exact parallels, municipalities have the right to determine what sort of commerce is conducted within their borders…whether it’s a fast-food restaurant, a gun dealer or an adult bookstore. (As I said, the comparisons are inexact.) All of the products in question can be legally bought and sold, and all of them are available to consumers who choose to find them. So how is West Hollywood’s choice any different from other types of “zoning”?

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Should municipalities be able to ban the sale of products that may be legally sold under county, state and/or federal law? Only if it kills PEOPLE!

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 7 months ago

While I’m not a big fan of fur, I have to wonder how this will affect the bottom line. It is still legal to sell fur but it would seem there is more of a social element driving this. A quick scan in Google suggests that fur demand is actually increasing, so for retailers it has to become a social question. West Hollywood (and considering its situation) must consider the needs of local business before arbitrarily banning products based on the social aspect. Would I buy fur? Probably never. Would I prevent someone else from buying fur? Never.

Roger Saunders
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Municipalities have a court-supported right to ban the sale of selected items within their municipal borders — alcohol, tobacco, select quick service restaurants, etc., are a but a few examples.

While they have that right, the decision is not something that should or will be followed across the country. Councilman D’Amico is either naive or flaky (likely both) if he believes that West Hollywood will impact the thinking across the country.

The merchants in West Hollywood, and the citizens of the burg have an opportunity to “vote the bums out” if they see the issue differently. Likely, the State and Municipalities of California have some far larger issues on which they should be focused — it appears that the State, as well as West Hollywood, has a need for a variety of sources of revenue. Those revenue streams from “fur-related” products will quickly shift to points beyond the city, and perhaps State lines.

Perhaps the West Hollywood political figures are practicing for their debuts in Washington D.C.’s expanding political bureaucracy?

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Regulating the sale of certain products at the municipal level is relatively well-established precedent. Alcohol, adult entertainment, etc. What is clearly unconstitutional is prohibiting the possession or consumption of an otherwise legal substance by the population of the municipality.

The practical result of such a ban on sales however, is also pretty well documented. Any consumer in the municipality who would be in the market for that product goes somewhere else and buys it and brings it home. The only ones hurt are local retailers and local tax revenue. The wisdom of such a move is clearly demonstrated by the number of “dry” towns and counties remaining in America. Practically none.

Local governments are formed to serve the needs and wishes of the local population, within the bounds of superseding law. If the West Hollywood electorate wants to give the City Council the authority to make public morality statements for them I suppose they can. But the retailers harmed could make a pretty good case for compensatory damages.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

No big deal. Some cities try to ban Walmart and Walmart sells everything.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Why aren’t they banning the sale of meat and other animal products? It’s outrageous, but not surprising from the Socialist Republic of West Hollywood. Now, with their neighboring Socialist Republic of Santa Monica, they will be able to form the Union of Socialist Republics of America! πŸ˜‰

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Years ago, the city of Takoma Park, Maryland banned nuclear weapons, and declared itself a nuclear-free zone. Enough said.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

In theory, local communities can set any standard they want. If voters don’t agree, they should change their elected officials. There are probably few fur sales in a city where the temperature rarely gets below 50. This is more about extreme politicians telling citizens what they should buy. These people forget we live in America and are free. Telling us you cannot buy X or Y is taking away freedoms.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I always cringe when we get these questions that move away from commentators core strength — i.e. retail — and venture into legal issues; the argument of parallels to alcohol or fast-food, and the broader claim that “people get to decide what’s sold in their city” all miss the point: use of police power is predicated on protecting the public welfare. What, exactly, is being protected here? I suppose one could say animals, and make the case of anti-cruelty laws; but if that’s the case, then the law is too narrow…in this case, half-a-loaf is the worst option of all.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Sure they should. Then, if the citizens don’t like it, they can vote them out — and if that doesn’t work, they can move to a fur-friendly environment. It’s about choices. Big Brother watch dogs can say what they will, but if it becomes bigger than fur, I’m confident that democracy will prevail and any craziness will be overruled.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 7 months ago

The answer to the question: No, municipalities shouldn’t ban the sale of products that are legally sold under county, state and/or federal law. With their wallets, consumers continue to be the best judge of which legal products will succeed in the market and those that will not. If council members want to advocate for a personal cause, then they should do so on their own time and their own dime. This law is stitched together with the thread of arrogance.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 7 months ago

I’m not a big fan of “banning” stuff generally, as it usually just feeds the black market for banned items. Conversely, if enough residents of a municipality (state or country) feel strongly opposed to something, demand for those products simply goes away. I think education is far more effective than legislation in the long run.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Ridiculous. Should this ever be challenged in court, it will not hold up to scrutiny. This is a PR showcase and nothing more. It is sad state of affairs, when a city has no other issues to address except whether one product should be sold and not another. Drugs, prostitution, crime, even traffic issues should all take precedence to this type of legislation, but clearly they do not.

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
9 years 7 months ago

“Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals” according to Wikipedia.

Fur is green, sustainable and biodegradable. It is the perfect material for clothing. Sheared lamb jackets will be banned but what about the fur otherwise known a wool? This seems like the another nudge at the banning of all animal products whether protective or food products. Let them eat bean sprouts.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Yes, as more and more ban controversial products, hopefully larger government bodies will take notice and support the quiet majority.

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