WeHo Fur Ban Ruling Creates Further Delays and Confusion Without Any Concrete Resolutions

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Tuesday November 8, 2011 (West Hollywood, CA)– Last night the West Hollywood City Council voted 3 in favor, 1 opposed and one strong abstention to move forward with the first reading of its proposed fur ban. THIS DOES NOT MEAN A FUR BAN PASSED!!! Technically, this means the draft ordinance goes into “consideration”, usually for a period of 30 days. In casting his vote, however, John Duran, the Mayor, added the contingency that a new Economic Impact Study be conducted and paid for by the city and presented within a six month window. At that point Council would again review the issue before approving enactment. If the city fails to do the study, approval of this reading would have to be rescinded.

“This is one of the strangest and most blatant moves of political maneuvering I have ever seen,” noted Darren Gold, owner of Alpha Boutique and Chair of the Avenues of Art and Design. “Due Diligence and studies are done before ordinances are passed…not after. It is akin to buying a business, waiting for the check to clear and then deciding to exercise the due diligence to see if you paid too much. Gold adds, “John Duran’s contingency means that nothing can move forward until the city completes this study. Given that we are entering peak holiday season, that likely means late January or February before results can even be presented to the city for discussion.”

David Klein, owner of Goldsmith-Klein, a luxury retailer located on Robertson Boulevard in the city notes, “It begs the question: Why would the Mayor of a city make a statement supporting an ordinance and then seek the information to support it? This undoubtedly sends a message out through the worldwide media that the city is unfriendly to business and creates such deep concern and confusion that anyone considering bringing a business to town is unlikely to sign a lease. And as leases are multi-year, he has, in effect, potentially created significant long-term damage to the business community, the property owners and the potential for tax revenues” He added “Had I understood this was going to happen when I signed my lease several months back I would certainly have rethought my decision to locate in West Hollywood. Why didn’t Mr. Duran do the more sensible thing – the right thing – and as the City did last week on the Plummer Park issue, delay any decision to gather more information? This would have achieved the exact same result he seeks without damaging the business community.”

The city chose to ignore an independent Economic Impact Study that was previously presented choosing, instead, to conduct their own using valuable resources that could have gone to infrastructure improvements or social programs. “Given that the current draft of the ordinance is much more expansive than the draft used during fielding of the first study, and now clearly covers calfskin, shearling and sheepskin as well as shoes, boots, belts, hats, gloves and scarves, the likelihood is that the number of businesses impacted by this ordinance will now grow substantially beyond the 46%(or 91 businesses) reflected in the original study,” according to Keith Kaplan, Executive Director of the Fur Information Council of America. “With over 500 top international designers including fur in their current fall 2011 collections the potential impact on the fashion community is clear. And, with the business community now much more aware of the issue those that dismissed the interviewers during the first study are much more likely to respond now.”

The city has also ignored repeated attempts by the Chamber and other members of the business community to present an alternative to address animal welfare concerns. “A labeling program coupled with consumer education is a proactive means by which to promote improved animal welfare and arm consumers with truthful information on which to base their purchase decisions,” notes Lindsay Lebbey, Director, ARCADE Boutique on Melrose Ave. “We’ve tried to bring this to the table. Where is the compromise from the other side?”

In the end, if the primary goal of West Hollywood was to send a message to other cities the Council has created a real mess. The public outcry in opposition to the ban and the media coverage will send a resounding message to other cities…DO NOT TOUCH THIS!!!!!