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.
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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