Saturday, October 1, 2022

Marin cities adopt project to review restrictive housing policies

Marin County cities say they will work with a county program to educate residents about racially restrictive covenants that may exist in the functions of their homes.

board of supervisors adopted a program in May Aimed to comply with federal and state requirements to verify fair housing, which would allow homeowners to file amendments to actions that exclude people of color. The contracts, which are now illegal, were largely created by the Federal Housing Administration and required developers to include restrictive language except for 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 restrictive covenants in property deeds. Through the new program, residents are able to examine real estate documents to see if discriminatory language is present, certify and confirm that illegal and racially restrictive contracts are unconstitutional and make a public statement opposing that language. Let’s enter.

The county plans to build a website where residents who submit their deeds can share their personal stories and observations and will use the submitted actions to create a map of where restrictive contracts exist in Marin.

“San Rafael enthusiastically supports the county’s efforts on this project to increase awareness and understanding of racially restrictive covenants through our history,” said San Rafael City Manager Jim Schutz.

Mayor Kate Colin said San Rafael does not have the potential to launch more local city-level educational forums about housing policy such as covenants and redlining.

“Counties have resources, both people and funding, that cities don’t,” Colin said, adding that he hopes discussions will continue about pushing more equity into developments with county support. San Rafael, like other cities and towns, is focused on new policies addressing racial justice and social equality, and will soon conduct a new internal equity audit of city systems and practices.

In Novato, Community and Economic Development Director Vicki Parker said, “We have no plans to collect oral histories as a component of our housing element update, although we certainly hope that the stories of Novato residents will be shared with the county.” will be captured through the project.

Parker said, “We will be working on segregation and equity issues during our updates to ensure that we are aware of structural or programmatic conditions, and are actively addressing that could lead to segregation or lack of equity.” or allowing it to continue.” 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 discussing issues of racial equality, the council raised the issue of the restrictive covenant and directed staff to examine how we can educate our community about our local history of discriminatory housing. And how can we partner with counties to refute the process. Covenants are less cumbersome,” he said.

There’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in Mill Valley work plan, and over the past several months city employees have reached out to the county, offering assistance with the covenant program, city leaders said.

“We recognize that government agencies have played a role in creating racial inequalities, especially around land use and housing,” said City Manager Alan Piombo, “now working together to have thoughtful conversations about our history and find solutions.” It’s time. produce equitable results.”

The county is also using the program to educate people about the history of “redlining,” which drew borders to show that people of color were not allowed to live there before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the May 25 meeting, several commentators pointed out to observers that the move was not enough to drive real action towards greater equity in housing.

Carolyn Petty, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, said she supports the project, “I would also say it’s a first step for me.”

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