After consulting with a real estate attorney who reviewed our neighborhood's case, the CC&R Subcommittee of the Ladera Community Association learned a few things about how to move forward with removing the racist language from the restrictive covenants.
What did we learn?
1) We cannot remove the racist language by a simple Ladera Community Association board vote.
We were hoping that this would be an option; however, the LCA does not meet the legal status required to strike the language, and obtaining that legal status, if it is even possible, would be exceptionally complex for numerous reasons.
2) The state legislation that would supposedly make it easier for neighborhoods to strike racist covenants would, in its current form, require a generation to take effect.
The bill, as currently written, would allow the language to be removed from the property records only upon the sale of that property. Thus, should the bill be passed, it would take many decades for it to "take effect." Moreover, AB-985
was vetoed in 2009, is currently extremely nascent in the legislation process, and has not yet even been brought forth or published.
3) The only ways to remove the language are either a) each property owner goes through the process with the county separately and individually, or b) a two thirds majority of all property owners in Ladera sign an amendment to remove the language for all tracts of the neighborhood, for a single CC&R amendment to filed with the county for the entire neighborhood.
The first is extremely onerous and time-consuming for an individual property owner (there are actually several Laderans who have been going through this process and can speak to that fact). The latter, given that it would require approximately 700 notarized signatures, is unrealistic during a pandemic but we believe will be achievable with a community effort once public health restrictions are no longer necessary.
What do we recommend?
The CC&R subcommittee recommended to the LCA that we pursue option 3b noted above, through a series of events held this Summer 2021 to obtain in-person notarized signatures, assuming this is safe from an infectious disease perspective (we anticipate that it will be). This can be part of Ladera 75th Anniversary events, and we can have notaries present at July 4 and other high-turnout summer festivities. We also propose holding dedicated Ladera CC&R events, in order to capture as many Laderan signatures as possible. We will realistically need more than 2/3 votes (approximately 700 signatures), given that there is always some amount of turnover in the neighborhood. We will work with the County to ensure that the process allows expedient amendment of the CC&Rs once all signatures are obtained. We do not expect fundraising to be a limiting factor, and we do not plan to use "community funds" (e.g., LCA or LRD funds). We anticipate total costs <$15k but will obtain more accurate estimates based on legal fees and mobile notary rates.