Marine cities adopt plan to review restrictive housing policies – Marin Independent Journal


Cities in Marin County say they will work with a county program to educate residents about racial restrictive covenants that may exist in their homes’ deeds.

The board of supervisors in May passed a program to comply with federal and state requirements to affirm fair housing that would allow landlords to file deed amendments that exclude people of color. The agreements, which are now illegal, were largely created by the Federal Housing Administration and required developers to incorporate restrictive language prohibiting the sale of homes to people of color.

The county assessor’s office has identified more than 49,000 residences in Marin built before 1970 that may have ethnicity covenants in property deeds. Through the new program, residents can check real estate documents to see if there is discriminatory language, certify and assert that illegal and racially restrictive clauses are unconstitutional, and file a public statement protesting that language.

The county plans to create a website where residents who submit their deeds can share their personal stories and comments and will use the deeds submitted to create a map showing where the restrictive covenants exist in Marin.

San Rafael City Manager Jim Schutz said, “San Rafael enthusiastically supports the county’s efforts on this project to raise awareness and understand racial restrictive covenants throughout our history. “

Mayor Kate Colin said San Rafael lacks the capacity to initiate more local, city-level educational forums on housing policy, such as conventions and redlining.

“The county has the resources, both human and financial, that cities just don’t have,” said Colin, adding that she hopes discussions on pursuing greater equity in development, with county support, will continue. San Rafael, like other cities and towns, is focusing on new policies addressing racial justice and social equity, and will soon be performing a new internal fairness audit of the city’s systems and practices.

At Novato, Director of Community and Economic Development Vicki Parker said, “We don’t intend to collect oral histories as part of our housing component update, although we certainly hope that the stories of Novato residents will be captured across the county project. “

“We will be working on issues of segregation and equity during our update to ensure that we are aware of and actively address the structural or programmatic conditions that allow segregation or inequity to occur or occur. continue, ”said Parker, who said the city will work with a housing consultant later this summer.

In Mill Valley, “we’ve been very interested in this topic since June of last year,” said Mayor John McCauley.

“During a five-hour community meeting on racial equity issues, council raised the issue of restrictive covenants and asked staff to consider how we might partner with the county to educate our community about our history. discriminatory housing community and to go through the process of refuting less onerous alliances, ”he said.

Mill Valley has a diversity, equity and inclusion work plan, and in recent months, city staff have reached out to the county to offer assistance with the engagement program. , said city leaders.

“We recognize that government agencies have played a role in creating racial inequities, particularly around land use and housing,” said City Manager Alan Piombo, “Now is the time to have thoughtful conversations about our history and working together to find solutions that create equitable results.

The county also uses the program to educate people about the history of the “red line,” which drew boundaries to show where people of color were not allowed to live before the 1964 Civil Rights Act. At the May 25 meeting, several commentators said supervisors felt the move was not enough to lead to real action towards greater equity in housing.

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California Executive Director Caroline Peattie said while supporting the project: “I will also say that for me, this is really a first step.

“I think it’s important that people understand and be made aware of the importance of this issue, that we need to do something substantial to improve housing equity,” which is much more difficult, said she declared.


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