Hired Guns: Part 4

March 28, 2017 § 55 Comments

Part 4: White-out, Whites In

The PV Estates CCRs came in three booklets, one for each of the city’s three subdivided tracts: Margate, Lunada Bay (home of the racist surfer gang, and Valmonte. The beginning of each booklet is promotional copy designed to show new home owners how fortunate they are to own property in this exclusive, snowflake community. It’s all harmless stuff until you reach page 4. In each booklet the third paragraph from the bottom is whited out.


Before …

After finishing the ad copy I came to page 17, which lists the actual declarations setting forth the covenants and community regulations. Article I contains the basic property use restrictions, and Section 1 lets you know in no uncertain terms that if you wanted to erect a “columbarium” in PV Estates, well, you’d better take your funeral urns elsewhere. In the same vein of keeping the neighborhood Beaver Cleaver wholesome, landowners were barred from erecting institutions for the care of those “afflicted with tuberculosis,” the “mentally impaired,” and the “victims of drink or drugs.” This last prohibition might empty out much of the community, and especially the high school if ever enforced. A ban on the mentally impaired would take city council qualifications to a whole new level.

Section 1 then mysteriously skips to Section 3, and it’s not because the founders couldn’t count to 2. It’s because, as with the ad copy on page 4, the Palos Verdes Homes Association has meticulously gone through each and every CCR booklet and whited that section out.


I got a can of acetone, a pocket knife, a piece of Scotch Brite, and sat down with a cup of patience. Carefully sopping the Scotch Brite with acetone and gently rubbing it over the white-out, little by little the censored text appeared. On page 4, here’s what it said:



And on page 17, the cleaned up text read thus:


So my suspicion about Garrett Unno was borne out—not to mention other anti-cycling opponents active in PV Estates with non-Caucasian names like Zaragoza and Bianchi. They all live in a neighborhood whose CCRs specifically and legally stated that no one of “Asiatic descent” or not of the white “Caucasian race” may live there. Other names immediately came to mind: Council member Lin, new council member Kao …  they all sounded pretty “Asiatic” to me.

After a bit more reflection it occurred to me that perhaps the offensive language had been whited out for an admirable reason. Perhaps the PV Homes Association had, after Shelley v. Kraemer and the passage of Civil Code 1352.5, voted to amend the declarations. Perhaps the homes association whited out the language because these odious racist restrictions had in fact been stricken from the CCRs and it was cheaper to use liquid paper than reprint a whole new set of books. Perhaps PV Estates wasn’t still living on its racist foundations after all.

That’s about the time the results from my title search came in. I’d run the search on the home in PV Estates I once rented, 1720 Via Zurita. With the exception of changes to property setback rules and alterations in the minimum housing prices, nothing else in the CCRs had ever been amended, at least according to the title search for this property. The racially restrictive language in PV Estates, as far as I could tell, was alive, well, and still breathing life into the prejudices of the people who lived there — regardless of whether or not they were legally enforceable.

And in case you wanted to know where the Palos Verdes Homes Association stood on the matter, well, look no farther than the white-out, because that’s the language assuring whites they will always be in. They’ve whited it out, but you know, wink wink nudge nudge, the real meaning is literally just below the surface. Of course it’s still possible that the CCRs have been amended and recorded with the county and my search simply failed to turn them up.

We all know about founding documents that don’t have the force of law but that nonetheless serve as moral and philosophical guiding lights. The most famous one is our Declaration of Independence, which had no force of law but whose aspirations to freedom for all people were the moral philosophy that abolitionists and those who believed in civil rights never lost sight of. The hopes and dreams of noble ideas can work their way down through the years to bring out the best in us.

But on the other hand, the foundational philosophy of racial hate that underpinned PV Estates has carried its noxious stench down to the present day. Harassment, violence, exclusion, corruption, and even death have been its spawn. And to make the irony perfect, that legacy is propagated by people in PV Estates, who in the technical terms of the CCRs that originally governed this special little snowflake on the hill, are still non-white, non-Causasian persona non grata.



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§ 55 Responses to Hired Guns: Part 4

  • Barbara Radnofsky says:

    I certainly hope your City Council all get your blog and also can read it. Then they will do the right thing and unanimously adopt a resolution voting down their racially restrictive covenants, and thanking you formally, maybe a key to the City in a tasteful ceremony.

    • fsethd says:

      That would be great, but unfortunately the covenants can only be amended with a 2/3 vote from all affected parcel owners. It would be great to see the PV Estates community get together and repudiate racism, that’s for sure.

      • I am on the Board of Directors for our home owners association. Several months ago our property manager informed us that the lawyer who advises our association had concluded that due to changes in state and federal laws our CC&Rs would need to be updated. When asked if our association would need to approve those changes by the normal 2/3 vote, we were told that the lawyer had concluded that since these changes were required by law, no association vote was needed. He said something like, “The changes are required by law. You have no choice but to make them.” The board just had to direct the lawyer to do the work.

        I’m glad to say that our circa 1974 CC&Rs never any whites-only rules. Most of the changes were actually additions. For example, we had to add wording to the effect that the association could not base rules or decisions on race, creed, religion, sex, etc.

        I have no idea if our experience would apply to the PV Estates, but it sure makes me wonder.

        • fsethd says:

          Was it in California? Your lawyer is correct if so. Civil Code 1352.5 requires home association boards to delete references to discrimination in declarations or governing documents for subdivisions and they need not be voted on by homeowners.

          PV Estates has obviously whited out the offensive provisions based on what the homes association hands out to people; the question is whether or not they also submitted it to the County Recorder’s office so that the official records also reflect this.

          I still don’t have a copy of the most recent CCRs for the city but have ordered them. The one property document I pulled showed that the CCRs had not been amended and filed with the county. We’ll see.

      • Yes, our HOA is in Orange County, CA.

        Here’s a small correction to my original reply: “… our circa 1974 CC&Rs never *HAD* any whites-only rules.”

    • Dan says:

      Even better: a key to the City car!

      • EricW says:

        No, no. Not the car. Not another car.
        Lets make it the key to the city’s many bike locks on the city bikes, please!

        • fsethd says:

          Yes, all the PV Estates bikes, one of the largest bike sharing programs in the world, a model for multi-modal transportation, ecological sustainability, and community diversity.

  • GoodGrief says:

    How ironic that the NIMBY purveyors of hate and intolerance against cyclists are themselves the object of hate and intolerance of their community. That guy claiming to be “Frank Ponce” will surely hop on NextDoor to defend his community (and drum up real estate business) while the old guard watches and continues to laugh at him from Facebook groups of which he’s not a member. The other long time community members will claim to know nothing about it, while at the same time supporting the “specialness” and “unique character” and “peach and tranquility” of their neighborhood while silently overlooking the nazi symbols not only places on pvhs student cars but non-white neighborhood mailboxes. Drive around the neighborhood, and note the skin tone of those pulled over by the PVEPD. Folks growing up in Lunada would rather not believe this is why their parents moved here. But it is. And every old timer, “I’ve lived here for 40 years” resident in PVE knows it.

    • fsethd says:

      People are manipulated to do the work of those who don’t want to get their hands dirty. But the CCRs make clear what’s really at stake.

  • Eric says:

    It would be interesting to do a little DNA testing. I’ll bet you the language of the CCRs can be traced back to one lawyer, and it probably shows up elsewhere. Most zoning codes are like that- copy and paste jobs. One side yard setback fits all. Why reinvent the text?

    • fsethd says:

      The fact is that racially restrictive covenants were the norm in 1923. Countless communities from then until 1948 included them. PV Estates is not unique in this regard. What’s unique is that the city has remained so segregated in such a racially diverse county. Only a handful of other communities, almost all of which are beach communities, by the way, have managed this feat of KEEP THEM OUT.

  • Michelle landes says:

    The hairs on my arms are standing up !!!

  • Sibex Czar says:

    Investigative Journalism meets the Op-Ed page. Great reading.

    I thought there would be another cliff-hanger to make me want to live till tomorrow.

  • Brian C says:

    I remember reading similar racist language that was handwritten on my deed for a property in Venice. Just like your earlier blog I thought about the civil war, Thomas Jefferson and of course “Hamilton”(not to mention “Spamilton”). I was blown away that racist restrictions could still be in our deeds. The more I thought about history… WW1, WW2, current wars and earlier wars I was happy with the fact that you found some white out in a PV library book in 2017.

    • fsethd says:

      Yes but not a library book. These are the current CCRs given out by the Homes Association.

  • dangerstu says:

    One of the best things about coming to America was the lack of thinly veiled inherent racism, that I grew up with in England. It’s obviously still there hence the brexit fiasco.

    Thanks for doing this.

    • fsethd says:


    • Dan says:

      I’m pleased you’ve found less thinly veiled racism in the U.S. Maybe there’s actually less here, or maybe it’s just behind a thicker veil? I hope the former, but I fear the latter–and I see a lot of evidence that the veil is ripping.

      • fsethd says:

        Or at least the white-out is thinning.

      • dangerstu says:

        Dan, I thought about that and yes I believe there is less racism here than when I left the UK. But I agree the veil is ripping, we just need to let people know it’s not ok, and stand up to it where ever we see it.

  • Toronto says:

    The irony of ‘whiting out’ their segregationist CCR’s is palpable.

  • GoodGrief says:

    Note that only Councilmember Lin Peterson had the courage to stand up to the locals in the name of what is right. While the other Council Members caved to Bay Boy pressure, she stood strong and independent. This is called leadership. On many occasions, she has stood up to the cronies on the Council – such as squandering more money on Upper Barrel. #respect

  • Jorgensen says:

    Kao is last name of one of the newly elected council members.

  • Unconscionable, unspeakable…appalling.

    • fsethd says:

      Conscionable, spoken and written, approved by the PV Homes Association, and goes along with every deed!

      • Indeed…sounds much like the demographic phenomenon of White Flight, in which a coalition of realtors, banks, developers, landowners, zoning boards, and the FHA effected patterns of racial segregation. It is unfortunately alive and well in PVE.

  • Hank from Pasadena says:

    I grew up across the border in Rolling Hills Estates. At the time, in the 1970s, the entire Hill seemed to have a restrictive covenant that you had to be an aerospace engineer to live there. Or, you could have some business you owned, because the commute to downtown L.A. or even the Westside was too long. Many doctors, since they could practice anywhere. I would say that what’s going on now is more “class” (the word that the United States pretends does not exist – I mean, at least everyone admits that the word “race” is a word, even the Freedom Caucus).

    If, by random chance, some cyclists had been sprinkled along the Donut Ride route I don’t know that there would be any issue. PVE’s demographics are exactly what higher end bike shops are looking for. If you can get a house in PVE you probably would also be a fan of carbon made by a company that only works with 100% carbon type carbon. As opposed to the other types of carbon.

    Ran into a Big Orange guy up here (Pasadena) for the Montrose ride. He confirmed how bad it is down there.

    • fsethd says:

      More coming on this issue tomorrow …

      • Hank from Pasadena says:

        Looking forward to the rest of the series. I would never have guessed PV would be hostile to cycling. Unlike the Lunada Bay surf thing, which I sort of get because surfers of any age don’t like crowds (although aren’t the Lunada Bay “Boys” around 70 now? I mean, how tough can a bunch of 70 year olds be?), cyclists seem fine with more cyclists.

        If I still lived in PV it would be no problem to see group rides and just hop into them.

        • fsethd says:

          Cyclists have received the displaced city anger at the Bay Boys. Rather than confronting and dealing with homegrown crime, they have come up with the novel plan of pinning the tail on the bicycle donkey.

  • Denis Faye says:

    Oh relax. It says right there that these are “the usual” restrictions. Nothing weird about racism in ‘Merica. Ask our, er, their president.

    • fsethd says:

      I was wondering when someone would comment on that. Just racism as usual, folks. Move along. NOW.

  • John Cary says:

    Wow. Bitch slapped by living history.

  • joninsocal says:

    I’m not often stuck for words that are printable on a family blog but….

  • Sean R. says:

    Isn’t this all totally ridiculous, Seth? These deeds are truly ancient in their raw form and as indicated by being redacted the racist stuff doesn’t represent PVE residents by association. I feel bad for all the cyclists who spent countless hours trying to get BMUFL signs, but really this is nonsense.

    • fsethd says:

      Is it really ridiculous? I suppose it depends on who you ask. The question I’m investigating is whether PVEPD or LASD is better for cyclists?

      In trying to answer that question I’m looking at the PV Estates environment and how it relates to cyclists, which is related to its police department, which is related to the way the city treats “others.”

      The redacted deed restrictions aren’t “ancient.” But even if they were, like the Magna Carta, the question is whether they are still on the books, regardless of their enforceability. The booklets are either one of two things:

      1. Current CCRs that have been modified in accordance with Civil Code 1352.5, which means the Association will have also filed amended declarations with the county, or

      2) Redacted CCRs that have not been filed with the county and are simply being handed out to make people feel good while the bad language is still on the books.

      If the former, PV Estates has done the right thing. If the latter, the Association is still obliged to file amended CCRs with the county that delete the racial restrictions. If you or someone else has a copy of the most recent CCRs currently on file with the county, please forward them to me. The only ones I have obtained so far are from a title search on a property for which the old language is still there.

      I believe that there are many PV Estates residents who find such restrictions repugnant. But I also believe that there is a vocal and powerful minority who do not. Some of those people are actively engaged in harassment of cyclists through PVE police.

      Thanks for supporting our BMUFL efforts, if that’s what you meant to convey.

  • Bob Young says:

    If this is what you do with your free time due to riding less, maybe you should rethink your mileage again before you are arrested for illegal timber future trading like in Russia.

  • marc Caruso says:

    If these are printed in 2017 why don’t they just retract those passages before they go to publishing They are probably spending a fortune on whiteout.

    • fsethd says:

      They aren’t. They appear to be originals with the offending language whited out. The paper is very, very old, but this is what they hand out at the PV Homes Association. Go figure.

  • Mark says:

    strewth! who are these people?

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