Former San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang during a fur-ban rally in 2018 
Photo: Katy Tang Instagram

Former San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang during a fur-ban rally in 2018 Photo: Katy Tang Instagram


Lawsuit Against S.F. Fur Ban Goes Another Round

A challenge to a fur ban in the city and county of San Francisco petitioned for a new day in court. Michael Tenenbaum, a Santa Monica, Calif.–based lawyer for the London-based advocacy group International Fur Trade Federation, recently filed an amended complaint for a lawsuit against a municipal fur ban that went into effect for the city and county of San Francisco earlier this year.

A federal judge dismissed the challenge last month. The dismissal was made on the grounds that the plaintiff’s argument did not meet the court’s tests for proving San Francisco’s ban on sales of fur in city and county boundaries were unconstitutional. This recently filed complaint opens a new round of litigation on municipal fur bans.

The San Francisco fur ban was approved before the California state legislature, which approved a statewide fur ban. This was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2019. This state law made it unlawful to sell, display or distribute a fur product for monetary or nonmonetary consideration. The state bill also made it unlawful to manufacture a fur product in the state for sale. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The recently filed amended complaint represents the only current lawsuit against a California fur ban currently scheduled to be litigated, Tenenbaum said. Other California cities with fur bans include Berkeley and West Hollywood, with a ban in Los Angeles set to take effect next year. The amended complaint asked the court to demand San Francisco not extend the reach of its fur ban outside the city, which Tenenbaum said was implied in the ban.

“National retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue were free to sell and ship fur products to San Francisco from their locations outside the city before the fur ban took effect. Today, under San Francisco’s enforcement policy, in order for such interstate commerce in fur products to continue to follow into San Francisco, defendants require these retailers to physically vacate San Francisco,” Tennenbaum wrote.

Bruce Wagman, an attorney for the lawsuit’s co-defendants, The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, forecasted that he would make a motion to have the judge dismiss the case. A deadline to file a motion to dismiss is Aug. 21, Wagman wrote.

“We believe the claims are just as meritless as they were the first time around. As the Ninth Circuit and other federal courts have held time and time again, there is nothing unconstitutional about a state or city prohibiting the sale of cruelly produced animal products in the local market,” wrote Wagman, an attorney with the firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP.

He also rejected Tenenbaum’s argument that retailers selling fur online will have to close San Francisco locations that do not sell fur.

“Nobody is forcing them to close their shops. The ban is just stopping them from selling fur in S.F., not anywhere else in the world. And finally, S.F.’s position is directly in line with the cases that have upheld this kind of ban,” Wagman wrote. “The city has been clear about its policy. Retailers in San Francisco cannot take advantage of online sales to promote the sale of fur when they are in fact San Francisco retailers. This position is completely consistent with the purpose of the legislation—to keep San Francisco sellers from engaging in the sale of fur.”