County of Marin - News Releases - Restrictive Covenant Project

For Immediate Release
December 13, 2022

Restrictive Covenants Project Earns State Award

Agency recognizes Marin for redacting racist language in real estate deeds

San Rafael, CA – A Marin County program to modify real estate documents that contain outdated racist covenants has attracted statewide attention and earned a coveted award.

A closeup view of a person's hand holding a ruler while redacting passages on a piece of paper.The process of redacting racist language in officially recorded documents is expected to take several years.

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) bestowed a Challenge Award to Marin’s Office of the Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk (ARCC) for its Restrictive Covenant Project, designed to redact racist restrictions in real estate documents that prohibit the purchase, lease, or occupation of property to people of color. Such deed language has long been illegal in the United States, but many title reports from Marin homes built prior to 1968 still contained the racist restrictions.

Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk Shelly Scott said she was proud that the program, launched during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has made such an impact. Board of Supervisors President Katie Rice found racist language in her own title documents several years ago and was eager to draw attention to the need for change. A University of Minnesota mapping project that showed locations of homes containing racist restrictive covenants in deeds – triggering widespread housing segregation -- helped lead to Marin’s project as well. County District 2 staff members Nancy Vernon and Crystal Martinez made key contributions along with the County Community Development Agency’s Liz Darby, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team, and many ARCC employees, Scott added.

“We’re extremely grateful to receive this award and want to extend appreciation to all those who got us on this path,” Scott said. “Learning more about institutionalized racism and seeing Minnesota’s redlining map really moved me, and I thought we needed to do it here. We’ve met with Monterey County about replicating this program, and we hope other counties look into adopting it as well.”

Watch the County’s video about the project.

In an October update to the Board of Supervisors, Scott said roughly 8,500 homes were built in Marin from the time the racist language was legalized in 1926 and 1948, the year the U.S. Supreme Court declared it a violation of the 14th Amendment. As Marin’s subdivisions were planned and built during the Baby Boom years, its population more than doubled between 1948 and 1968 when the Fair Housing Act was passed. All the limitations became illegal with the passage of the 1968 law, which blocked loopholes in the larger Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Maps resulting from the project have promoted increased engagement from residents as they learn about the lasting impacts of past segregation and the generational wealth gaps that segregation has promoted.

The Restrictive Covenants Project website includes a time progression map created by the Marin County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team. CSAC noted that the project is replicable and that Recorder’s Office staff is eager to work with other counties that wish to create their own maps.

All document modifications made thus far by ARCC staff involve race-related restrictions, but some restrictions from past decades prohibited the purchase, lease, or occupation of properties based on gender, marital status, age, source of income, and other characteristics.

Residents living in older homes are encouraged to check their title documents for racist covenants. Those interested in participating in the Restrictive Covenants Project made learn more on the ARCC webpage.

CSAC honored 19 programs from 14 counties after reviewing 370 entries in its annual recognition competition. Marin ARCC was one of 18 programs earning Challenge Awards.

CSAC was formed in 1911 to represent county governments before the California Legislature, administrative agencies, and the federal government. CSAC places a strong emphasis on educating the public about the value and need for county programs and services.


Shelly Scott
Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk
County of Marin

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 208
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7215
Email: Shelly Scott