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West Hollywood Fur Ban Upheld

A federal court on Monday upheld the City of West Hollywood’s municipal prohibition on the sale of animal fur apparel.

LOS ANGELES — A federal court on Monday upheld the City of West Hollywood’s municipal prohibition on the sale of animal fur apparel. Chief Judge George H. King of the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a constitutional challenge filed by home and accessories retailer Mayfair House to the ordinance.

King wrote that West Hollywood’s intent to “promote community awareness of animal welfare, foster the city’s goal to be a community that cares about animal welfare and further the city’s reputation as a cruelty-free zone for animals” by prohibiting fur sales was a “legitimate interest.” Mayfair House however, can continue to challenge the ban at the state level.

“It’s not over yet,” said Elizabeth Solomon, a spokeswoman for Mayfair House. “We are surrounded by home design stores that sell fur chairs and fur rugs. That is where the issue is. Why is this just directed to apparel? Just be fair and apply it across the board.”

The ban went info effect Sept. 21, 2013, slapping retailers who sold fur with civil penalties of $200 for an initial offense, $400 for a second offense within a year and $800 for a third offense within a year. A $50 administrative fee is levied with each penalty. Additional offenses within a 12-month period are charged as infractions or misdemeanors.

Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America, estimated that more than half of the retailers in West Hollywood would lose sales as a result of the city’s ordinance prohibiting the selling, trading, distributing, importing or exporting of any fur product because the ban includes any products with fur fibers attached, such as shearling and calfskin. Among the many clothing stores in West Hollywood that carry such products are Balenciaga, Rag & Bone, Maxfield, Alberta Ferretti, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Kitson, Tommy Hilfiger, Christian Louboutin, BCBG, Church Boutique and H Lorenzo. The International Fur Federation has estimated the global fur market at $40 billion worldwide; total fur sales in North America are estimated to have topped $4 billion in 2013, according to the Fur Information Council of America.

“Many of these retailers have locations outside of West Hollywood where they can continue to sell fur, and they’re not really feeling the hit from this. [The ban] really singles out independent retailers, which is unfair to small business owners,” said Kaplan.