Council Passes Fur Ban on Split Vote

The West Hollywood City Council votes for a third time to adopt a ban on clothing with animal fur, but unlike previous unanimous decisions, the vote was split 3-1, with one abstention.

West Hollywood made history by once again voting to become the first city in the nation to ban the sale of clothing apparel with animal fur Monday night. But the third time around, the vote showed a City Council deeply divided on the issue.

The previous two times, the fur ban has come up for a vote—at the and council meetings—the five council members approved the measure unanimously. This time, the ordinance passed with just three votes.

Although the council several details were missing from the ordinance, thus forcing them to hold this unusual “second first reading” with the added details. But in the ensuing six weeks, the business community began campaigning against the ban.

When Councilman John D’Amico first introduced the ban, he reported that only a “handful” of businesses would be affected. After that, the West Hollywood-based Fur Information Council of America (FICA) released an economic impact study showing that out of 209 clothing apparel businesses in the city, 91 of them, 46 percent, sold clothing or accessories with animal fur.

That information, combined with lobbying by the business community, prompted Councilman John Heilman to change his vote to a nay. Heilman said passing the ordinance and thereby alienating the business community was not wise as it invites costly lawsuits.

“If the goal is to end animal cruelty, we need to get the businesses and the community on board,” he said. 

The fur ban only applies to clothing apparel, not furniture items made with fur. Heilman wondered if this fur clothing ban might eventually lead to a ban on furniture with fur or leather products. He said he did not want to be at war with businesses that sell leather or the leather community.

Councilwoman Abbe Land abstained from voting, explaining that while she was against fur apparel sold in the city, she did not think the ordinance was the right one to accomplish that. She too did not believe it was smart to adopt the ban unless the business community was supportive.

Business community against ban

Of the 35 people who spoke during public comment, half were business representatives speaking against it. One business owner said the city does not have any right to dictate what he sells unless they are also paying his rent.

FICA executive director Keith Kaplan talked of the high-end retailers that are threatening to move their stores out of West Hollywood if the ban passes.

Kaplan then pulled out a two-inch stack of papers and threw it on the table saying those were copies of letters the city has received from businesses and community members opposed to the ban. He then tossed a stack of papers one-fourth that size on the table, saying those were the letters from people supporting the ban.

Of the people speaking for the ban, most talked about the atrocious ways animals were killed to get their fur. Attorney Steven Jay Bernheim offered to donate his legal services to defend the ban if any lawsuits were filed.

Getting other cities on board

Land also expressed concern that other cities were not indicating any intention of following West Hollywood’s lead and adopting similar fur bans.

“When we’ve taken a stand before, we’ve always done it with the intent of taking our colleagues with us,” Land said, citing the cities that banned smoking in restaurants after Weho took the then groundbreaking action in the mid 1990s.

Mayor John Duran said he did not have enough information about how this would impact the businesses. He said he did not trust the FICA-commissioned economic impact study and asked that the city commission its own economic impact study.

Duran said he hoped the fur-free activists could convince the Los Angeles city council to pass a fur ban, adding he doubted Beverly Hills would ever adopt such a measure.

With Duran, D’Amico and Mayor Pro Tempore Jeff Prang, who helped draft the ordinance, voting affirmatively, the ban passed 3-1 (with Land abstaining) at 12:40 a.m. to a loud round of applause from fur-free supporters.

Duran instructed the city staff to return in six months with the economic impact report at which time the council will revisit the issue. The ordinance is due to go into effect on Sept. 21, 2013.


Afterwards, D’Amico told Weho Patch, “It’s clear that this is headed in the right direction and I think that before long all of my colleagues will be on board.”

Resident Ed Buck, one of the leaders of the Fur Free Weho movement, said, “I’m so incredibly proud that my city council not only had a moral compass, but used it.”

On the other side, business owner Darren Gold, who serves as board chair for Weho’s Avenues: Art, Fashion and Design District, which came out against the ban, called Duran’s vote a “shoot first and aim later” action. 

“It doesn’t make sense that you say, ‘We have a flawed ordinance and I want more information, but I want to vote for it to move forward anyway,'” Gold told Patch. “You would never say that I am going to buy a company and do my due diligence afterwards.”

FICA executive director Kaplan, who previously told Patch that , was dumbfounded by Duran’s vote.

“It is almost incomprehensible to me, you have a mayor who stated quite clearly and articulately that he didn’t have enough information on which to make a decision, yet made a very clear decision,” Kaplan said. “It was pointed out very well by two other council members, the city should slow down and allow time for the information that the mayor himself requested.”

Follow West Hollywood Patch on Twitter and Facebook for more updates, tips and news.

west hollywould November 08, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Bravo to John Heilman and Abbe Land for being the only two council members with a lick of sense! If the Chamber of Commerce, the West Hollywood Marketing & Visitors Bureau AND The Avenues business improvement district all tell you not to do this because many retailers will be adversely affected, that this will portray the city as moralistic and anti-business, and that it will have greater consequences than just being a "symbolic" act, then why didn't the other three listen? It's shameful. This was not about animal cruelty, for which there are other, better remedies; it was about attention-seeking city council members who need to take a good long look at why they were elected. I'm embarrassed to be a WeHo resident today and rethinking how I feel about this city. The fur issue is so far off base from what a city government should be tackling. People, this is your tax money at work! Ugh. Shaking my head.
J. Doe November 08, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Does a 3-5 vote mean 3 ayes and 2 nays?
Manny November 08, 2011 at 06:55 PM
A wishy-washy, confused, half measure, non-vote of a non-ordinance. John Heilman was the only council member who could formulate an honest intelligent opinion.
jimmy palmieri November 08, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Tandra Dunn November 08, 2011 at 07:43 PM
That is FANTASTIC News! Animals were not born for humans to slaughter them for their fur. Buy fake if you feel the need to have to wear fur. If humans were meant to wear fur, we would have been born with it. More cities, states, and countries need to follow fur ban. Congratulations to representatives that proposed the ban and got it passed.
joninla November 09, 2011 at 12:23 AM
"BRAVO" is hardly the accolade I would bestow upon Heilman or Land for this or any other of their irresponsible and personally motivated actions as City Council Members. To be clear, John Heilman is not only a licensed attorney, he is also a Professor of Law, and he KNEW or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that the City of West Hollywood does not have the legislative authority to pass this law. Even if their 'Lack of Legal Knowldege' (again - a Professor of law - not knowing?) is not excuse. The simple fact that no other City big or as small as WeHo in the Entire United States has every passed or attempted to pass such a law leads one with 'common sense' to think that despite WeHo's No-Stop Proclmations of Active Liberalism, there are Far Far More Liberal, Pro-Active Citys, Communities and Advocate Groups with enormous power who WOULD HAVE TRIED TO PASS SUCH A LAW ALREADY .... but the total absense of even an attempt seems MORE THAN OBVIOUS is due to the fact that there are no other Cities with such little knowledge, understanding and willingness to follow the fundemental nature of the way the United States is Governed - From Federal Powers, to State Powers, the smaller and local powers to govern being only derived from what the STATE GOVERNEMENT has specifically made the proper authority of a small local municipality.... bevcause it is only a local issue. BANNING FUR IS ANYTHING BUT AN ISOLATED LOCAL ISSUE. SHAME ON HEILMAN! (not bravo ... How long did it take him to cave in?)
Herbert Kamens November 09, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Crime in WEHO is ALL THE WAY UP with another brutal attack Sunday night. Businesses are hanging on for dear life, and what are those idiots Damico and Duran doing? Initiating an incredibly arbitrary ban on fur. It's LAUGHABLE to think this will protect animals. The only thing it will do is have customers flocking to LA, where a ban this STUPID will NEVER pass, despite what Duran says. Have never seen the council so obnoxiously thumb their noses at residents, polls, the business community. They even acknowledged that they didn't have enough info about impacts to make an informed decision but did it anyway. THIS IS THE DEATH KNELL FOR WEHO BUSINESSES BECAUSE ALL IT TAKES IS 2 OR 3 STORES TO LEAVE AND THEN ITS NOT AS EXCITING TO SHOP HERE ANYMORE. And 6 are looking into leaving! Palmieri, you should be VERY concerned because with less revenues coming in, they have less to give you and the rest of the Tweakers. DUH. Also quite telling that when Duran read the names of people who supported the ban, only about 15% were actually FROM weho, the rest were from Pacoima and Tarzana, as if they really matter to WeHo. This is BAD NEWS for the city because it affects EVERY business, and sadly, the damage is done. Weho is ON THE RECORD as being ANTI-BUSINESS and and its obvious this is just a first step as was also discussed last night. Duran has obviously stayed too long or has simply lost his mind. Damico is clearly in over his head and came off like a blubbering idiot last night.
joninla November 09, 2011 at 12:32 AM
I get your point ... but it is not really about Council Members not wanting to ban fur. It is the fact that it is not within the power of any City to pass such a law. It's a complicated 'civics' issue which we, as non-elected non-participants in the actual Governing of Our City (we voted for people who are supposed to know 'how government runs, what they can do, and the procedures to get it done properly). As for your (and mine - and most people's) concern for the Animals and the Cruelty ... This was a PR Stunt by the City Council who have little to no interest in protecting animals from cruelty, but picked a popular cause that most City Residents would support, and "Used our genuine concern ... To Get Personal Attention and Support ... Knowing (at least Law Professor Heilman knows) that it can't not just be done through a bunch of weekly City Council Meetings. I think the SUDDEN (my head is still spinning) change from a resounding UNANIMOUS VOTE by all Council Members to less than a week later, one (no vote and one missing in action) on what they previously were all exited to present to the local news, tells the real story of the City duping the Residents Yet again.
joninla November 09, 2011 at 01:05 AM
With a little less hostility let me focus the issues. YES: CRIME IS RISING AND SHOULD BE ON THE TOP OF THE AGENDA FOR THE CITY COUNCIL TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION. YES: THE CITY COUNCIL HAS A RECORD OF 'SNUBBING THEIR NOSES" AT ANY RESIDENT WHO DARES TO PUSH THOUGH TO OPPOSE ANY OVERPRICES PROJECT/ NO: MAYOR JOHN DURAN HAS NOT 'STAYED TOO LONG' ANYWHERE - He has demonstrated from the moment he was sworn in that he is totally unqualified to hold the positon while possessing the very strong belief he is 'overly qualifed'. DURAN COULD BE SAID TO HAVE NOT STAYED LONG ENOUGH ANYWEHRE TO ACTUALLY LEARN OR UNDERSTAND ANY ISSUES. YES: D'AMICO IS CLEARLY IN OVER HIS HEAD. HE THOUGH AND I GUESS STILL THINKS HIS BACKGROUND IN PLANNING WAS ALL THAT WAS NEEDED TO GET WEHO ON TRACK. He has no idea what levels of Corruption are behind the end projects which he so naively said "the only problems is 2 council members think the 25 year plan means it is written in stone." That's the ONLY problem. That is the BIGGEST PROBLEM IMAGINABLE! Nobody knows who holds power, how the power is managed and what the formal documentation presented by the Council on the City's Offical Register means or it's binding affect.
michael November 09, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Thank you councilman heilman for being the voice of reason on the fur ban issue.
michael November 09, 2011 at 03:17 AM
I also want to add Councilperson Land as being a voice of reason on our City Council.
Tandra Dunn November 09, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Crime Is Everywhere....Let's add Animal Cruelty and Neglect, That too is a Crime....Animals ALSO need protection. We aren't taking about the rise in crime....I think it is AWESOME the US ban on the sale of Fur clothing passed...Now let's make it US wide. Then other countries can follow suit. You want fur, buy fake.
DNB November 09, 2011 at 09:25 AM
Abbe abstained. Thanks for nothing.
jimmy palmieri November 09, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Just an FYI to Herbert......The Tweakers Project receives no funding from the city. We rely on private donations , volunteers, and sponsors who generously support us with in kind necessities needed to run our grass roots outreach organization. As far as businesses leaving weho......NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. Beverly Hills is too stodgy for the demographic they are seeking. Los Angeles not "hip" enough. Weho is where they want to be and will stay. And if they leave, new designers with the ability to use progressive thinking, and follow the current trends of the "new world" will replace them.
DNB November 09, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Whatever. It will get struck down in the courts. Abbe said that one if the reasons that she abstained was because no other city in the nation has shown any interest in a similar ban. Furthermore, the members who voted yes will pay a big price politically. The barely squeaked by in the last election, every one who hated them, still hates them, and now they have made enemies of the retail community. Not to mention the Russian community, they vote out of habit, but the russians do like there fur. Between that and the Plummer Park debacle, their toast.
DNB November 09, 2011 at 08:58 PM
No other cities have shown even a jot of interest in a similar foolishness, not one. That's why Abbe abstained. Humans have been wearing fur and eating meat since there were humans. And yes, we are changing the way in which those things are harvested. But the fact that we do eat and wear animals will never change, ever, ever, ever. "If humans were meant to fly we'd have wings." Silly. Just silly.
dan November 20, 2011 at 12:10 AM
With the ban on fur will the artists who create extremely beautiful pictures on canvas with fur brushes continue their art?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something