Real Estate Racism in California, Proposition 14, Housing Discrimination, and an Apology from CAR

Posted On: February 2, 2023
By: Matt Fuller

San Francisco homes for sale in 2023 have a story that goes with them, from the home to the neighborhood to the people that developed and built it to all of its past owners. Some of those stories are recently written, like the newly developed Mission Bay neighborhood. Other neighborhoods, like St. Francis Wood or many West of Twin Peaks neighborhoods, were developed at a time when real estate racism was considered acceptable and developers sought to exclude many people from buying, living or selling in those neighborhoods.

The real estate industry, unfortunately, has historically played a role in supporting discrimination in real estate. On my San Francisco real estate podcast – Escrow Out Loud – episodes 108, 109, and 110 I explore the role the California Association of Realtors once played in promoting a proposition (Prop 14) in 1963 that enshrined discrimination in the state constitution. In October of 2022, the California Association of Realtors® (CAR) issued a formal apology for past discriminatory policies. At a press conference in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 2022 CAR formally apologized for its past discriminatory policies, including Proposition 14 — a successful 1960s ballot initiative that overturned the State of California’s first fair housing law.

Just like homes for sale in San Francisco have a story that goes with them, so does the apology issued by the California Association of Realtors®. I hope you enjoy this small insight into the efforts of many San Francisco and California Realtors who dedicated their time and energy to advocating for fair housing in San Francisco and across California.

From the press release:

“The Association was wrong. We not only apologize for those actions, we strongly condemn them, and we will continue working to address the legacy of these discriminatory policies and practices,” said C.A.R. President Otto Catrina.

CREA was behind Article 34, a law passed in the 1950s that remains in place that makes it very difficult to build affordable housing in California. The Association also excluded women and people of color from membership.

In the 1960s, California’s first fair housing law, the Rumford Fair Housing Act, was passed. CREA actively encouraged its members to support Proposition 14, a law that overturned the Rumford Act and modified California’s constitution so that the state could not prohibit private property owners from engaging in discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the proposition as unconstitutional.

In the years since the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and other fair housing laws, C.A.R. has prioritized understanding and addressing the unique homeownership barriers impacting communities of color and other historically excluded communities.

“We have continued to unpack our difficult and sometimes obscure history of opposing fair housing laws, promoting segregation and racial exclusion prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. As an organization that deeply values inclusion, we can’t change the actions of the past, but we are taking bold action now to help build a more equitable and just future,” said Catrina.

For instance, C.A.R. recently sponsored a law requiring periodic implicit bias training for all real estate salespersons. Additionally, C.A.R. helped shape a new law that strengthens consumer protection in instances of appraisal bias.

Currently, C.A.R. is working to address the legacy of discriminatory policies in a variety of ways. These include:

●     Offering a closing cost grant for members of underserved communities.

●     Donating to the Black Wealth Builders Fund, a down payment assistance program for Black home buyers in the Bay Area.

●     Partnering with and sponsoring the work of nonprofit organizations that support greater homeownership for members of underserved communities.

●     Sponsoring and supporting a variety of policies that address supply and affordability challenges for communities of color.

●     Co-sponsoring a bill that would overturn Article 34, a law California REALTORS® helped pass in the 1950s that makes it much harder for California communities to build affordable housing.

●     Supporting a law that provides a system for redacting restrictive covenants in property records.

C.A.R. will continue to develop and strengthen programs that break down barriers to homeownership. To learn more, visit


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