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West Hollywood Finalizes Ban on Fur Apparel Sales

City Council votes one last time to approve the nation's first ban on the sale of fur apparel, over objections of councilman who raised concerns on business impact.

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.

Reactions

“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.”

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allegra November 22, 2011 at 07:44 PM
John Heilman has some interesting logic. He was comparing his & Abbe’s local smoking ban to the fur ban. He said that the smoking ban supports business because they didn’t ban the sale of cigarettes. What? So, basically, that would be like saying that if you didn’t ban the sale of fur but didn’t allow it in the store you’d be pro business. In five weeks, restaurants will lose all of their outdoor smoking business and a huge amount of revenue. Where was their economic study?
Chloe Ross November 22, 2011 at 08:49 PM
They don't have one. Neither fur nor cigarettes are illegal to buy or sell. Observing the council in action is a fascinating study in pandering. But even the council persona don't seem to have a clue to whom they actually pander.
WeHoOne November 22, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Ban John Heilman. Looking at him (and listening to him) is cruel & unusual punishment
Wendy November 23, 2011 at 04:18 AM
The Fur Ban will be thrown out in court. It is restraint of trade. WeHo has a record of losing. They lost on the DeClaw ban and just created a situation where more animals are being declawed than ever because it is written in stone now that you can do that. WeHo also tried to force a Landlord to rent a unit for $200 per month and the CA courts through out the whole vacancy decontrol law in its entire form. WeHo raised rents in the end for everyone. WeHo does not think these things out before acting. They take on subjects they cannot win and then the side they oppose is even stronger in the end. You got people trying to make a name for themself in the interest of protecting animals. They do not have the legal knowhow and then they get creamed in the court room.
mary bauer November 23, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Let those fur banners be in snow country or live in cold climate. Natural fabric, as furs/leather are keeping warmer, then bulky syntetic fibers,"breathing" body not prespire. If those animals are not endegered, or slauthered cruelly, is such trend now in retro fashion, that is fur also business.., WH should go out of the range of WH and see the world around self.... There are issues to campain much more important, like more liberty and acceptance for gay unions, or for incomming immigrants learning English, or during Parade days, to use shuttles for residence people to be able to commute in and out from work, leaving cars parked farther, able to come home in less hours, not rerouting or bumper to bumper. Oscar times as well, many street closures are more important then furs....Also for visitor smokers from another countries, is not democracie in America----restrictions ok, but total ban is against tourists and restaurants and hotels, so is that "business" or revenue for WH??? Such paradox having several smoke shops along Santa Monica Blvd, really such hypocracy in planning......WH is a great city, unique as should be known as such, but outside their borders are people and cultures slightly different -----isn't acceptence the aim of eachother?
Wendy November 23, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Sounds like one of the 47 percent in America that does not pay taxes and a smoker as well. Vistor Smokers getting an exemption. That's a good one. We We. How about building a Mosque on Plummer Park or Poinsettia at the same time :)
jimmy palmieri November 23, 2011 at 05:55 PM
WENDY THAT IS SO OFFENSIVE! WHAT COULD YOU BE THINKING?
Wendy November 23, 2011 at 06:58 PM
What is offensive? Having a mosque is a Good thing. It is a way of proving that you are not racist to Islam. I am offended at your lack of culture. I think you are guilty of a hate crime. Don't you just love your own political correctness thrown back at you?
jimmy palmieri November 23, 2011 at 07:02 PM
FUNNY, I WASN'T WRITING ABOUT THE MOSQUE.....PERHAPS YOUR STATEMENT TO ME WAS A PROJECTION............GOOD DAY WENDY...HOPEFULLY YOU CAN TEACH ME OF YOUR CULTURAL AWARENESS AND POLITCAL CORECTNESS SOMETIME........................
Wendy November 23, 2011 at 07:16 PM
I have no idea what you are rambling about now. What exactly is offensive? I said 47 percent of America does not pay taxes and Visitor smokers getting a pass is laughable. I may not be able to teach you cultural awareness. I think you are too far lost. You think dressing up as a Nun in drag at a meeting for trangendered victims is classy. How can I work with someone that lost. I am laughing at you.
Lynn Russell November 24, 2011 at 07:24 PM
A well intentioned but poorly researched concept. A national campaign supporting an ordinance focused on awareness and respectful/responsible behavior in our everyday lives would seem impossible but something truly needed. Much of this daily personal introspection is frequently blown off course by the incessant intrusion of the entertainment factor determined top make a spectacle of everything. The true meaning is lost.

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