"perpetual and binding forever"
Race and the Creation of a
Los Angeles Subdivision

Covenants and Restrictions:
The Final Draft

Walter Leimert and the Francis Land Company spent much of the month of February crafting what they hoped would be the final draft of restrictions for Tract 11556. Other than rejecting a couple of the spatial suggestions, the developers incorporated all of the FHA suggestions, as well as input from local governments and real estate offices.

The Francis Land Company sent a letter, with the amended restrictions, to the Federal Housing Authority on February 21, 1939. They received notification exactly one week later, that the LA office of the FHA had accepted the revised restrictions. Along with sending an additional copy of the restrictions to the FHA, the Francis Land Company also had to register them with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office.

The Cheviot Hills Tract Restrictions

The final version of the Declaration of Restrictions, signed on March 2, 1939, is a longer and more formal document that earlier versions. It is broken into a series of numbered clauses, and if there are multiple restrictions related to that, they are numbered within the clause. For example, Clause V. Character of Buildings has four separate restrictions, numbered 1-4. As always, the bulk of restrictions deal with buildings and space -- how big, how high, how much yardage between house and sidewalk, and so forth. All of these point toward creating the idealized subdivision as put forth in Subdivision Standards.

Two clauses remain separated from the others, both in nature and enforcement.  Clause XIII is the Liquor Restriction, prohibiting buying, selling, handling, or manufacturing intoxicating liquors."

Clause XIV is the last "working" restriction, and it is clearly labeled as the Race Restriction, here quoted in its entirety: "That said Tract No. 11556, or any lot of portion thereof, shall not, nor shall any interest therein, at any time, be used or be occupied by any person or persons whose blood is note entirely that of the caucasian (sic) race, but persons not of the caucasian race may be kept thereon by such a caucasian strictly in the capacity of servants of such caucasian occupant."

As with earlier versions of the Declaration of Restrictions, the clause following the race restriction sets a timeline for the expiration of the restrictions. Clauses I.-XII., "shall in all respects terminate and end and be of no further effect, either legal or equitable, after January 1, 1989, and that the conditions contained in Clauses XIII. and XIV. shall be perpetual and binding forever upon said Tract 11556." (emphasis mine)

As always with the Cheviot Knolls restrictions, the developers acknowledge that in 50 years some or all of the first twelve clauses may need to change, for whatever reasons. They cannot, however, imagine a time when liquor can be manufactured or sold on the Tract, and they certainly cannot imagine a time when non-Caucasians can be allowed to own or occupy a home there.

"...and sensible restrictions..."

With the completion of the Declaration of Restrictions, the developers of Tract 11556 had the right to tout the all-important phrase "FHA approved" in their marketing. They immediately seized on this, and began promoting Cheviot Knolls heavily. This ad on the left appeared in the Real Estate section of the Los Angeles Times less than three weeks after the FHA gave the Francis Land Company the go-ahead, while the display ad ran one week later. 

The ad promises the potential customer an idyllic, elegant neighborhood, very much like the one envisioned in Subdivision Standards. The FHA approval is listed in the third paragraph. The next paragraph highlights the connection to Walter Leimert, as well as noting it as a community of "lasting value." (emphasis theirs)  The next column highlights the physical features of the tract, and promises "sensible restrictions to perpetuate every natural beauty."

To many prospective homeowners, this is all perhaps just non-controversial advertising copy. To anyone at all familiar with the Federal Housing Administration, though, the highlighted term "lasting value" as well as "sensible restrictions" says something else. It says that Cheviot Knolls is a place for White buyers only. And it promises that it always would be.


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