Racial Covenant Modification

The Town is documenting the history of racially restrictive covenants to determine the extent of their use in the Town. We welcome you to join us in this effort. Racial deed restrictions were recorded on some San Anselmo sites when a lot was sold. Backed by federal legislation in the 1930s, home loans were prohibited to certain races and ethnicities. Lending policies also required builders to record racially restrictive covenants. This type of systemic racism prohibited people of color from purchasing homes in the Town and in Marin County. Racial covenants determined housing options in Marin that still affect neighborhoods today. Although racial covenants are illegal and cannot be enforced, they are an offensive and painful reminder of a history of racial hostility and exclusion.

The County of Marin is mapping areas that have been subject to racially restrictive covenants.  Email or mail them a copy of racially restrictive covenant documents. The Marin County Community Development Agency will certify racially restrictive language is illegal and inconsistent with County values.

How to Modify Racially Restrictive Covenant

Pursuant to Government Code Section 12956.2 property owners may file a Restrictive Covenant Modification form that effectively records over the impermissible covenant and removes the offensive covenant from any subsequent documents that would be sent to future buyers. 

Find restrictive covenants by looking at your title report. Any restrictive covenants may be obtained from the Marin County Recorder’s Office.

A property owner can redact a racially discriminate covenant from their deed by taking the following steps:

  1. Complete the Marin County Recorder’s Office Restrictive Covenant Modification Form. Make a copy of your deed and include a copy of the specific verbiage you want redacted. 
  2. Bring the completed (unsigned) form to a notary for signing and notarization. Locally, you may visit Postal Services Plus at 706 San Anselmo Avenue. 
  3. Deliver the signed and notarized Restrictive Covenant Modification form and the copy of the deed to the Marin County Recorder’s Office in San Rafael. The Recorder will refer the document to Marin County Counsel staff for approval prior to recording.  After approval by County Counsel, the document will be recorded for no fee and returned to the submitter within a few weeks.

Optional: Add a Welcoming Covenant

An alternative or additional option is to add a covenant with language that acknowledges the racist clause, repudiates the unlawful clause and states instead that neighbors of all races and ethnicities are welcomed with enthusiasm. Richard Rothstein in The Color of Law  suggests:

We, [your name], owners of the property at [your address], acknowledge that this deed includes an unenforceable, unlawful, and morally repugnant clause excluding [races, ethnicities] from this neighborhood. We repudiate this clause and are ashamed for our country that many once considered it acceptable, and state that we welcome with enthusiasm and without reservation neighbors of all races and ethnicities.

Map In Progress: Subdivisions in San Anselmo Where Racially Restrictive Covenants Have Been Located (to date)

Learn More

Segregated by Design video

Mapping Inequality interactive map

Segregation/Integration interactive map

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (2017). Available locally from Whyte's Booksmith Inc., 615 San Anselmo Avenue and Town Books, 411 San Anselmo Avenue 

Color of Law book