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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : Ban on Wood Dropped

October 11, 1990

Retreating from a proposal to make Santa Monica one of the first cities in the nation to ban the sale of wood from tropical rain forests, the City Council on Tuesday instead decided to prohibit itself from buying the environmentally taboo wood.

The council also tabled a watered-down proposal, which would have required local businesses that sell such wood to post signs stating tropical deforestation is harmful to the environment, pending a 90-day review by the city staff on how such an ordinance could be enforced.

On a 4-3 vote, with council members William H. Jennings, Ken Genser and David B. Finkel voting no, the council approved a ban on city purchases of the wood without the provisions for a sales ban or sign posting.

The sales-ban proposal was dropped after City Atty. Robert M. Myers suggested that such a prohibition would be difficult to enforce given the wide range of products in which tropical rain forest wood could be found.

Myers suggested the sign requirement, but some council members said it would be just as hard to enforce a sign-posting law as it would to determine whether businesses sell products that contain the wood.

Councilman David B. Finkel, who proposed the citywide sales ban, was disappointed by the council's direction because he hoped the city could set an example for the rest of the nation on environmental action.

"You can't initiate any kind of a movement from the top down," Finkel said. "Anything that is happening in the U.S. is happening at the city level."

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