Taking a stand for animal rights over fashion, the tiny, tony municipality of West Hollywood is set to impose a ban on the sale of fur clothing within its boundaries.
The five-member City Council voted unanimously in September to give tentative approval to the fur ban, which it says would be the first in any U.S. city, and the panel is expected to adopt the measure at a meeting on Monday.
Opponents say nearly half of the 200 apparel stores in town sell at least some fur items, and that merchandise made with animal pelts is estimated to account for up to $2 million in revenues for those businesses this year.
A leading critic of the proposed ban is the Fur Information Council of America, an industry trade group that happens to be based in West Hollywood.
But the city's famously left-leaning political establishment appears intent on embracing an animal rights cause that has largely been the domain of angry, sign-waving protesters outside shop windows.
Fur clothing has been controversial for decades, with opponents saying animals are inhumanely killed for their pelts. The federal government requires correct labeling of most fur garments, so consumers know what they are buying.
As tentatively approved, the measure would outlaw the sale of any garment made in whole or part from the pelt or skin of an animal with its hair, wool or fur, and would take effect on June 30, 2012. The council is considering an exemption for vintage garments with fur, supporters say.
Some details, including civil penalties on merchants caught violating it, remain to be worked out at Monday's meeting. Also unclear was how it would be enforced.
Wedged between Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, the city of West Hollywood is best known for its high quotient of nightclubs and restaurants, and a thriving gay community among its 35,000 residents.
Its vibrant shopping scene is patronized by everyone from movie stars to vintage clothing hounds, and retailers say fur is part of the package. Opponents also say the ban flies in the face of the city's live-and-let live attitude.
It's not the city's role to dictate to businesses what they can or cannot sell, said Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
But City Councilman John D'Amico, the chief sponsor of the fur sales ban, said it would distinguish West Hollywood not only from its neighbors, but from the rest of the country.
West Hollywood will be a special place, much more special than Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, D'Amico said. Now it will be the only city in the nation that's fur free.
His claim was confirmed by the Fur Information Council of America.