As we have all comed to better understand in recent years, discriminatory and racist policies that prevented people of color from purchasing homes have been illegal in the United States since 1964, but many property deeds still contain language that shows how certain populations were intentionally excluded from renting or purchasing homes in all parts of the country.
The County of Marin has been taking steps to identify and rectify historical documents and records that reflect its shameful past. At the Mill Valley City Council’s meeting in late October, Liz Darby, Social Equity Programs and Policy Coordinator for the Marin County Community Development Agency, gave a presentation on the County of Marin’s Restrictive Covenant Project.
The program aims to inform and educate Marin County residents of the history and significance of government policies and programs that were intentionally discriminatory and helped create segregated communities in Marin.
City Council and City Officials said they are in full support of the program and encourage Mill Valley homeowners to look into the program. Property owners can record a Restrictive Covenant Modification document with the Assessor-Recorder’s office as a way to protest the now illegal offensive language. The City also supports the program’s focus on sharing personal stories to create a narrative history of our County, and the creation of a mapping tool to visually represent Marin’s past practices of redlining.
In Marin County, the County’s Assessor’s Office has identified more than 49,000 residences that were constructed before 1970 that may have race or ethnicity-restrictive covenants in property deeds. Civil rights, fair housing and employment legislation have since prohibited housing discrimination, but the covenants remain, even though they are now illegal and unenforceable, and the legacy of racial segregation in our communities is its lasting impact.
City officials applaud the action by the County and encourage community members to learn more about the Project today.