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The Florida Bar

West Hollywood’s Ban on Fur Sale: How Legal Is It?

West Hollywood has become the first city in the United States to have formally banned the sale of fur. The ban is not just over the ill-famed large sable coats, but also covers every other item with even a trace of fur in its composition. A number of retailers, including H Lorenzo, Maxfield’s, and Zadig & Voltaire, have voluntarily and proactively removed fur related inventories from their premises. However, several other stores in the city have expressed their disappointment over the ban.

A number of merchants fear that the ban will have an adverse impact on their business. The greater worry is that in precarious economic times, the ban may lead to a retailer exodus, hurting the local economy further. The Chamber of Commerce in West Hollywood has now intensified its call to the City Hall to regulate rather than ban the sale of fur.

Genevieve Morrill, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, has issued a press statement that brings the legality issue to the fore. It says that the chamber was “deeply disappointed and saddened by the outcome of Monday night’s West Hollywood City Council meeting and their attempts to push through an ordinance which is detrimental to any business in West Hollywood, setting precedent to create unconstitutional laws that are arbitrary and capricious to ban products, and impede on the rights of any retail business owner.”

The Fur Information Council of America, which is based in West Hollywood, also agrees that the ordinance may turn out to be unconstitutional, and may bring a lawsuit challenging it and stalling the law’s implementation. This was asserted by the head of the trade group, Keith Kaplan. He believes that it may be unconstitutional to ban a product selectively. Kaplan also says that the publicity that such a lawsuit would entail may prove to be acutely embarrassing for the city. This probably would not be the first time either. In a state that is hurting greatly in this recession, they continue to shoot themselves in the foot.

Years ago, LA fought against Wal-Mart from creating jobs and investing into their city, only to LA’s loss and surrounding cities’ gains. These same like-minded politicians are at it again here.

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