Our Sleepy Hollow community has the opportunity to address historic racism in housing that has plagued our nation since it's inception and be a model for neighborhoods in Marin and beyond to move forward in an inclusive and welcoming state.
The County of Marin developed the Restrictive Covenant Project (RCP) which aims to inform and educate Marin County residents of the history and significance of government policies and programs that were intentionally discriminatory and helped create segregated communities in Marin. The use of racially restrictive covenants prohibited the purchase, lease, or occupation of a piece of property to a particular group of people, primarily Black and African Americans. And while those covenants are illegal today due to the Fair Housing Act in 1968, many continue to remain in property deeds throughout Marin, especially in subdivisions built during the post war development of the 30’s, 40’s and suburban expansion of the 50’s.
The County of Marin is actively going through historic deeds and flagging any that have restrictive language. As you can see from the map, many Sleepy Hollow parcels have already been flagged. The RCP offers residents of Marin an opportunity to certify and affirm that illegal and racially restrictive covenants are unconstitutional and violate current laws and County values. Residents can also share personal stories about their lived experiences to help create a narrative history of our County.
In 2017, Supervisor Katie Rice filed and recorded a Restrictive Covenant Modification with the County’s Assessor Recorder office for her property in Sleepy Hollow, officially striking out the discriminatory language in perpetuity. She discovered the discriminatory language during the real estate transaction process when the home was purchased. Supervisor Rice explains that while it may only be a symbolic act at this point, to her it represented a more thorough understanding and recognition of the many opportunities afforded people like herself (that were not afforded so many others) and of the forces that influence how our community evolved. She has been joined by many neighbors and invites you to participate as well.
The Sleepy Hollow community has been selected to pilot an educational outreach campaign that will then be rolled out throughout the County. The SHHA Board has endorsed the project and is working with community member and lead volunteer Alex Thomas to educate and empower residents to take action.
Your Sleepy Hollow neighbors have taken the initiative of researching including Lezley Blair who shared her story of surprise finding racist language in her home's deed (the house was built in 2016) in the SHHA Bulletin here.
“For me, making a moral statement is important. I want all people in this community, even in this historical nature, to know that this restrictive covenant was never OK and it is not OK to be attached to my property now. I was pleased to officially remove the roots of racism around my home. I suspect that similar restrictive covenants blanket most of the houses here,” said Lezley Blair.
Everyone can be a part of the solution! Deed research assistance, internship opportunities and help spreading the word is a great place to start.
Join your neighbors and let’s make Sleepy Hollow a model for inclusivity welcoming to all moving forward. Please email SHHA Board Director firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.