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New State Law Purges Racial Bans in Property Records

Contra Costa County officials must go through 28 million property documents to purge the “racist covenants”, statements saying only Caucasians can live in or buy the property. 

Bay Area counties are now following new state law to purge all the racist language they’re now finding in old documents, mostly from the 40s and 50s.

“We found in one case, the buyer freaked out and said ‘what kind of garbage is this?’ And showed me a screenshot that said, ’no person other than Caucasian can be on this property,’” said realtor David De Leeuw. 

County officials said courts have ruled this restrictive covenant language is illegal and now, as they discover the lines in old documents, the county will redact them making them completely unreadable.

A process that will take time.

“We’re hoping it will be just a few years,” said Joseph Barton, Contra Costa County Assistant Clerk Recorder.

The county has special software to go through all the home documents and will keep the original copy on file if any changes are made. 

“No part of the real property should be used or occupied by any person not of the caucasian or White race … provided that they aren’t in the capacity of a servant,” said Barton, reading property documents.

A part of history that realtors and escrow companies should also be pointing out to buyers if they discover it in a deed.

Some find the change can be controversial.

“Are we covering up history by doing that?” said De Leeuw. 

But some realtors say it’s good to learn from history, but may be better to wipe it off these documents for good.

“At very least, if the owner wants to get rid of it, they should get rid of it,” said De Leeuw.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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