San Francisco Passes Fur Ban

Joining West Hollywood and Berkeley, Calif., San Francisco implemented a similar ban restricting the sale of fur products following a unanimous 10–0 vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. At the forefront of the ban was Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the city’s Sunset and Parkside neighborhoods.

“It opens people’s eyes to what is going on in reality and that we, as consumers, have a voice and can change things,” she explained.

Originally introduced in December 2017, the new ordinance, approved on March 20, bans the sale of any new apparel with fur, which includes accessories such as scarves and products featuring fur trim.

Two exceptions to the ban are second-hand items sold through businesses specializing in vintage goods and products that include fur sourced from wild animals trapped according to regulations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2019, but retailers will be able to sell their current inventory, which includes goods en route to their destinations, until Jan. 1, 2020.

“It’s never the goal of mine to shut down a business but it is my hope that as consumers demand products from ethical resources, this legislation brings retailers to shift to meet consumer demand,” Tang said.

While the city’s chamber of commerce reported there would be a potential $40 million in losses, Tang said it is closer to $10 million, based on an estimate from San Francisco’s chief economist. Though there is a discrepancy with these figures, Jim Lazarus, the senior vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce explained that the threat to each retailer is clear and lies in difficulty of rebounding when the primary source of revenue must be replaced.

“It’s a changing time for retail and fur products. For the 40 or 50 retailers in downtown, taking that product line away is problematic of the health of those businesses,” he said. “We are going to try to track the impact over the next few years to see if we can make the case for changes in the future.”

In West Hollywood, the ban had some ambiguous regulations, which affected one retailer, who said the Ugg shearling products she sold had to be banned. She felt the law should not have applied to those goods.

“There was so much ambiguity [in the ban] that they don’t even know what shearling is,” said the retailer, who wished to remain anonymous. “We had bomb threats. We had all sorts of horrible things that were the fault of the city.”