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Lawsuit filed against San Francisco over fur ban

By Kristopher Fraser

Jan 15, 2020

San Francisco's fur ban is being challenged by the International Fur Federation with a federal lawsuit alleging the ban, which was approved in 2019 and took full effect on January 1, violates the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. The International Fur Federation is also driving home the environmental issues of a fur ban, because faux furs tend to be made from plastics that harm the environment, while real fur has a longer lifespan and can be repurposed and handed down rather than adding to landfills and pollution.

“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 the IFF, in a statement. “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.”

John Cote, a San Francisco office attorney spokesman, said that the city will "vigorously defend" the ban in court and also asserted that fur production actually harms the environment. "Fur farming contributes to air and water pollution, and fur processing often involves the use of harmful chemicals, like chromium and formaldehyde,” Cote said in a statement. “Fur farming also consumes significant amounts of energy: producing a coat made with real fur can consume 15 times more energy than the energy required to produce a fake fur garment.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a statement from executive vice president Tracy Reiman against the lawsuit saying: “The fur industry is desperate to keep confining animals to filthy cages, breaking their legs in steel-jaw traps, shooting or electrocuting them, or breaking their necks for fur that most designers won’t use and kind consumers won’t wear. Just as the meat industry has begun investing in vegan meats, investing in vegan materials would be a far better use of time and money than battling to block a ban that’s simply a symptom of the fur industry’s decline.”

San Francisco's fur ban was approved last year with parts of it going into effect on January 1. The entire state of California passed a ban on fur in October of 2019 that will halt the sale and manufacturing of new fur products beginning in 2023.

The ban has had a negative impact on San Francisco's retail sector, particularly their Union Square shopping district, which is home to many luxury retailers, and 30 businesses that sold fur items. As the ban only recently started to go into effect, the longstanding impact on San Francisco's retail sector has yet to be seen.