If San Francisco lawmakers have their way, the fur trade could soon go the way of the dodo. On March 20, 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to ban the sale of fur in the city, making it the largest city in the United States to do so.
The new law bans the sale, display for sale, and manufacture of “fur products” in San Francisco, and applies to a wide variety of products, including clothing and any fashion accessory (e.g. handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, keychains, and similar items), made in whole or in part of fur. The ban excludes the sale of certain used or vintage fur products; animal skins that will be converted into leather; and cowhide, lambskin, and sheepskin with the hair or fleece still attached.
The ban will take effect on January 1, 2019, but it provides retailers until January 1, 2020 to sell off existing inventory. Violations of the law are punishable by fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 per violation.
The law does not address the sale of fur online, leaving it unclear whether online retailers will be able to ship fur products to San Francisco mailing addresses, and if not, how the ban would be enforced. The law instructs the San Francisco Department of Public Health to develop regulations that will likely clarify the impact on online retailers.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce estimates that approximately 50 retailers will be affected by the ban and that fur sales account for at least $40 million per year. According to lawmakers, the majority of fur pelts produced in the US are mink pelts, accounting for more than 3.76 million in 2015. San Francisco is the third US city to pass a fur ban, joining Berkeley, California, and West Hollywood, California.