Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and Legislators Announce Legislation to Remove Racist Language from Real Estate Covenants

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced legislation to remove Jim Crow era, racist language from real estate deeds.

A racial covenant is an agreement binding property owners not to sell or rent to specific groups because of race, creed or color. Current language for racial covenants in many communities in California reads that the home can only be occupied by a person whose blood is “entirely that of the Caucasian race,” and that “no Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Hindu, or any person of the Ethiopian, Indian, or Mongolian races shall be deemed to be Caucasian.”  

Covenants restricting race and religion were deemed illegal in 1948 by the Supreme Court, but the language of these covenants remains on legal documents today. The proposed legislation, which will be introduced in late 2020, will remove these racial covenants from deeds when a property is transferred or sold.

“It is time to remove racial housing covenants that are a byproduct of our racist past. Eliminating these housing these covenants is a moral right and an important step in bringing racial justice to Californians.”   –Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

“As a former real estate broker, I have seen firsthand the outdated racial covenants that are still listed in housing documents. These covenants are appalling and a reminder that communities of color have been and continue to be discriminated against publicly and privately. It is our responsibility to rectify past injustices to pave the way for greater inclusion for all people and to promote diverse communities. We must disavow racism in all forms.” –Assemblymember Autumn Burke

"There is absolutely no reason that this racist language should exist in our housing deeds. I am grateful to Assemblymember McCarty for taking on this issue to create a more welcoming and inclusive society for us all." - Assemblymember David Chiu

“California’s housing system was created to perpetuate racial segregation. Racist covenants were part of that system. It’s long past due to strip them out of deeds and to move past this ugly chapter in our history.

There’s simply no excuse to allow these covenants — enforceable or otherwise — to continue to exist.” – Senator Scott Weiner

The proposal will be based on former legislation by Assemblymember Hector De Torre, who authored AB 2204 in 2009. Unfortunately his legislation, which also would have phased out these racist housing covenants, was vetoed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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