West Hollywood City Council cast its final vote of approval Monday for the controversial ordinance banning the sale of clothing with animal fur, but not before having an unexpected lengthy discussion of the .
Council passed the ban at their on a 3-1 vote, with one abstention.
Items that the council passes must undergo a “second reading” before becoming law. However, those second readings are almost always included in the council’s consent calendar, meaning there is no further discussion of the matter.
In an extremely rare move, Councilman John Heilman pulled the second reading of the fur ban from the consent calendar, insisting there should be more discussion.
Heilman, who i, but changed his position and said he felt the council was moving too quickly. He wanted the council to wait for an economic impact report to see how businesses that sell fur apparel would be affected before making it law.
“We should at least have benefit of that information [from the economic impact study] before the ordinance goes into effect,” Heilman said.
In September, the West Hollywood-based Fur Information Council of America (FICA) presented an economic impact report it commissioned that found 46 percent of West Hollywood clothing retailers sold some items containing fur. However, the council felt that study might be biased, so insisted on having a new one done. That report is due in May.
Real estate impact
Many high-end businesses that sell fur items made threats to move out of the city if the fur ban was passed. Heilman said he was concerned about the real estate impact if those businesses do leave.
“I think it could potentially change the kind of businesses that we have historically attracted to the Melrose, Beverly, Robertson area and result in a wholesale change in the kind of businesses that are likely to locate here,” Heilman said. “That’s going to have an impact on our built environment.”
Councilman John D’Amico, who sponsored the fur-ban ordinance, responded that many new businesses will locate to the city “because of who we are becoming.”
Heilman also expressed doubt in the ban’s ability to have any impact on the horrific ways in which animals are killed for their fur.
D’Amico said he was happy the community is having a “full-throated” discussion of the issue and thinking about how our society treats animals. “I think that’s profound in its ability to address cruelty,” D’Amico said.
Mayor John Duran said he supported the ban, because in Southern California, fur is not necessary for people to keep warm. “Fur exists only for fashion and, in some sense, vanity,” he said. “This is a position worth taking.”
Heilman then questioned the selectivity of the ordinance. Clothing items with fur will be banned, but furniture items with fur will not and neither will leather.
“If fur clothing isn’t a necessity, then fur furniture doesn’t seem to be a necessity either,” Heilman said. “If fur isn’t a necessity, then leather isn’t really either. As a vegetarian, I don’t really feel that meat is a necessity.”
Duran said the idea of banning meat was too radical to even consider.
In the end, the ban passed 3-1 with Heilman against it. Councilwoman Abbe Land was absent. The ban will go into effect on Sept. 21, 2013.
“I am pleased that my colleagues, all of them, participated in this discussion from the beginning," D'Amico told Patch after the meeting. "The ordinance has obviously passed, and I think that makes for an exciting new way of thinking about West Hollywood and thinking about the use and wearing of fur apparel."
Meanwhile, FICA released a statement stating that it and a coalition of businesses, property owners and stakeholders intend to file lawsuits.
“This is not, by any means, over” said Keith Kaplan, FICA’s executive director. “We are confident that the economic impact study ordered by the mayor will clearly reflect the important and growing role of fur in fashion today."
"The results will prove that fur is a key component in the collections of a clear and significant majority of the high-end fashion designers and boutiques the city has fought so hard to attract," continued Kaplan. "Any effort to ban fur sales will not only bring considerable economic damage to these retailers, but will have longer term effects on property owners and the image of the city.”