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Fur Industry Sues San Francisco

Lawsuit says City’s fur ban an unconstitutional attack on consumer rights

By Katy Grimes, January 14, 2020 7:52 am

‘Memo to California politicians: You do not have the right to stop people from buying things just because you or special-interest lobbyist allies don’t like the products.’

The International Fur Federation, based in London, announced Monday it has filed a lawsuit to prevent San Francisco from implementing a city ordinance banning the sale of fur.

The ordinance, passed in 2018, gave existing department stores until Jan. 1, 2020, to sell off their remaining fur stock and prohibits the sale of newly manufactured fur coats, hats, gloves, lined parkas (such as Canada Goose jackets), and other products.

The lawsuit also argues San Francisco has no legitimate local interest to ban fur sales and that the ordinance is an unconstitutional restriction on interstate and foreign commerce.

The California Legislature also passed a statewide fur ban. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) is the author of AB 44, which would prohibit the sale and manufacture of new fur in California. Friedman called fur a “fashion statement and statement of wealth. There is no need for warmth” from fur, she said, mentioning the many faux fur products available.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley already have fur bans in place, but Assemblywoman Friedman pushed for fur to be banned throughout the state of California.

Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) said that after hearing from different cultural groups, what wasn’t acknowledged was the push to ban fur discriminates against Native American and African American communities whose cultures value fur products.  “There’s no reason for this bill other than one class of society telling another class of society what they can and cannot wear,” Jones said in September after the bill was passed by the Legislature.

“I didn’t come to Sacramento to shut down legitimate business or industry – the free market does that, “Sen. John Moorlach said.

“In an attempt to legislate morality, Supervisor Katy Tang, sponsor of the ban, has stated that businesses ‘need to get with the times,‘” the International Fur Federation reported.

“Yet the current times do not allow for ignoring the Constitution’s prohibition on restraining interstate commerce. Proponents of San Francisco’s fur ban, including the radical animal liberation group PETA, believe the sale of leather, wool, and other animal products should also be banned.”

Fur sales in San Francisco alone are estimated to be $40 million annually, the IFF said. Globally, the fur industry is a $23-$30 billion business.

“While fur producers worldwide are complying with the humane standards of the FurMark program, San Francisco’s fur ban is so extreme that it blocks even humanely certified products. FurMark is a certification program for animal welfare and sustainability that covers fur products in North America and Europe.”

“If this law is allowed to stand, there’s nothing stopping San Francisco from banning wool, leather, meat, or other products that a small group of activists don’t approve of,” said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. “Californians should have no fewer rights than residents of other states. They should be free to buy legally produced goods unless there is a public safety or health issue—which does not exist here.”

“By banning fur coats and failing to address real issues such as homelessness, San Francisco politicians are the epitome of unfashionable governance,” said Will Coggin, managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Memo to California politicians: You do not have the right to stop people from buying things just because you or special-interest lobbyist allies don’t like the products.”

“San Francisco passed a ban on adults from using e-cigarettes—considered by many to be a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes,” the CCF said. “Recently, San Francisco banned the sale of bottled water on city property, including San Francisco International Airport, and the state has banned plastic straws. Both of these measures make San Francisco’s ban on fur all the more puzzling, since it will encourage the sale of fake fur, which is commonly made from plastic.”

The IFF explains the plastic fur issue:

Specifically, the alternative to natural fur is plastic fake fur, a fossil fuel byproduct. Research has found these synthetic fur fibers “shed” microfibers into the water when they are cleaned. A single garment could shed 100,000 microfibers in the wash. Plastic microfibers are a leading cause of ocean pollution, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and San Francisco Bay, and the National Science Foundation recently announced that microplastics may be 1 million times more prevalent than previously estimated.  

The challenge to San Francisco’s fur ban is filed in federal court for the Northern District of California. A copy is available here. Expect to see additional legal challenges, specifically to California’s statewide ban.

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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One thought on “Fur Industry Sues San Francisco

  1. Good. Will be rooting for the bringers of this lawsuit. But it’s really too bad there has to be a lawsuit filed for every.. single.. thing.. that shouldn’t have become law in the first place, just because Laura Friedman and her ilk don’t like it.

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