To this day, millions of home deeds across the country still contain racist language prohibiting home resale to people of color. Although racially restrictive covenants are now outlawed and unenforceable, the harmful language is a visible reminder of systemic racism and segregated housing.
What are these racial restrictions?
Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) is text in a home deed that describes the things a homeowner can and cannot do with the property. In 1915, neighborhood developers began adding racial covenants into the CC&Rs of new homes, which restricted the property from being sold, rented, leased or occupied by a person other than of the white or Caucasian race.
In 1948, the Supreme Court determined the covenants to be unconstitutional, but they were not removed.
California Assembly Bill 1466
In 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB1466 requiring all California County Recorders to develop a plan to identify and redact restrictive covenant documents with discriminatory language in their historical records. Upon the discovery of such a document, the County Recorder shall redact the discriminatory language by rerecording the document as a Restrictive Covenant Modification with the language masked so that it is no longer readable. Alameda County will begin to implement this process by July 1, 2022.
How you can make a change now.
1. Obtain a copy of the original document containing the unlawfully restrictive language from the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Official Public Records. (The online index of deeds only goes back to 1969. For homes built before 1968 you will need to visit the county recorder office in person to look through documents on film. Most CC&Rs with discriminatory language are from the 1915 – 1948 timeframe.)
2. Make note of the “instrument number” and/or “book number” for the document containing the restrictive language and page number where the language appears.
3. Email [email protected] and provide the “instrument” and/or “book number” and the section and page number where the language is in the document.
If approved, the County Clerk-Recorder's Office will make the changes. However, if the Office of the County Counsel finds that the original document does not contain an unlawful restriction, or contains unauthorized modifications, then the County Clerk-Recorder's Office will not make any changes.
For more information, visit the Alameda County Recorder modification webpage.
Restrictive Covenant Modification