Retailer Sues West Hollywood over First-Ever Ban on Fur Sales

Monday, September 30, 2013

Two years after West Hollywood passed the nation’s first ban on the sale of fur apparel, and just days after it finally took effect on September 21, a retailer sued the city on constitutional grounds.

Lawyers for Mayfair House, a boutique that sports fur-lined parkas for $1,800 and other clothes and accessories, filed a five-count complaint in federal court, according to the Los Angeles Times, that argues the West Hollywood law violates both the state and U.S. Constitutions. The lawsuit argues that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and was passed without consideration of the economic consequences. It also claims the law is a wildlife regulation, which only the state can pass.

The ordinance prohibits stores in the city from selling, trading, distributing, importing or exporting any fur product. “Fur product” refers to any item of personal attire that is composed in whole or in part from the pelt or skin of any animal with its hair, fleece (wool) or fur attached. Furry purses, jewelry and furniture are not covered by the ordinance.

Fur products sold by a non-profit organization, leather and a pelt or skin that has been preserved by taxidermy are also exempt under the law.

The city’s website cites People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) statistics that 85% of the fur industry’s skins come from captive animals at fur factory farms. An estimated 60 million mink and 6.5 million foxes are killed annually on fur farms. The number of animals killed every year just for their fur might exceed one billion if you add in rabbits.

West Hollywood is an animal-friendly city. The city council declared it an animal “Cruelty Free Zone” in 1989. It outlawed declawing cats in 2004, was an early supporter (in 2008) of a statewide standard for caging chickens and took a stand against puppy mills in 2009. West Hollywood passed an ordinance this year banning the commercial display of exotic animals, making unlikely a visit anytime soon by any circus other than Cirque du Soleil.     

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Clothier Calls West Hollywood's Fur Ban Illegal (by Matt Reynolds, Courthouse News Service)

West Hollywood Retailer Sues City over Fur Ban (by Andrew Asch, California Apparel News)

Retailer Sues West Hollywood over Ban on Fur Apparel (by Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times)

West Hollywood First City to Ban Fur (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

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