SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco on Tuesday became the third California city to ban the sale of fur coats and clothing, despite objections from the city’s business community.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the ban, making it the largest known U.S. city to approve such a restriction.
It follows the lead of Berkeley, which banned fur sales last year, and the city of West Hollywood, which approved a similar ban in 2013.
San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, who authored the legislation, said the ordinance is needed to help curtail the inhumane treatment of millions of animals raised on fur farms each year.
“There are so many alternatives to be able to purchase a garment or coat that keeps us warm that doesn’t result in us having our animals killed in these fur factories,” Tang said during a committee meeting last week.
More than 50 million animals are killed for their fur each year with more than 85 percent of pelts coming from fur farms, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
But the move to ban fur sales in San Francisco was met with resistance from the city’s business community.
The city’s Office of the Controller estimated that San Francisco retailers earned nearly $11 million in fur sales in 2012, based on the most recently available economic data.
San Francisco’s Chamber of Commerce estimated that number as closer to $40 million, according to a recent survey of San Francisco businesses.
“It will have a significant impact on dozens of local retailers, both large and small,” said Jim Lazarus, vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
The ban comes at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to reposition themselves and stay profitable as they compete with often cheaper online retailers, Lazarus said.
The ordinance could put a few small retailers out of business, Lazarus added. A handful of retailers almost exclusively sell fur products, he said.
Tang offered a last-minute amendment, which allows retailers who purchased fur products prior to Tuesday to sell off their existing inventory until the end of 2019.
Lazarus called the amendment helpful, but said the Chamber had asked that retailers be given more time to adjust and find new products to make up for the loss in sales.
“We sought a multiyear extension so that retailers could find products that replace these, that are popular with their customers, that will continue to attract shoppers locally and around the world, and would have the profit margins in them,” Lazarus said.
Tang said last week that while she understands the concerns of the business community, she also believes “we cannot turn a blind eye to what is actually going on in terms of fur farming.”
The ordinance requires a second reading and approval by the board, along with approval by interim Mayor Mark Farrell, before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
The Humane Society tweeted on Tuesday: “This is a historic victory for millions of animals cruelly confined and killed for the fur on their backs.”