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

Covenants & Restrictions: The All-In-One Draft

Another Leimert Subdivision?

When Leimert and the Francis Land Company formed their partnership, Leimert envisioned developing Cheviot Knolls as a scaled-down version of his other neighborhoods, most notably Leimert Park in South Los Angeles. There, residents paid annual dues to a Homes Association, pay for upkeep of common areas. Most importantly, the covenants and restrictions would reside with the Homes Association, and residents elected to the Association would police the subdivision to make sure all residents were following them.

However, instead of the 1,352 homes in Leimert Park, Cheviot Knolls was mapped for only 120. In an October 19, 1938 letter to the Board of City Planning Commissioners, the Francis Land Company said that the idea of a Homes Association for such a small area was not practical. Instead, the developers look to a three-person architectural panel to "safeguard(s) the best interest of the development." As for the restrictions themselves, Leimert's thinking evolved quickly. In an August 15, 1938 letter from Leimert to the Francis Land Company he suggests that "in connection with Cheviot Knolls, the restrictions are not on record, but will be contained in each form of Deed and Contract... unless it is decided to record a Declaration of Restrictions." As part of a formal request for an FHA inspection, developers had to fill out a Subdivision Information Form.  The form contains much basic information (size of subdivison, number of lots, proposed utilities, and so forth). Question 1i, asks "Are restrictions recorded against all lot? Or are they imposed in individual deeds. The Francis Land Company completed this form on October 31, 1938. In response to Question 1i, the developers typed "In individual deeds."

Individual Deeds with Restrictions

While there is correspondence regarding possible restrictions as early as July, 1938, the first complete set of restrictions in the collection represents Leimert's attempt to make a deed that contains the restrictions. The advantage of such a document was that the buyers could see them when they signed the deed, and they would always be present with them. Leimert created a model by modifying a standard deed he used at one of his other neighborhoods. 

The resulting document is awkward and sometimes difficult to follow, with some paragraphs crossed out in red, and new paragraphs written on thin paper and pasted into the middle of a page. Nonetheless, this cobbled-together copy catches a number of features that Leimert no doubt included to appeal to the Federal Housing Administration. While any set of restrictions will include language about the size, style, and upkeep of homes and grounds, there are three restrictions in this document, forms of which will be present in all versions thereafter:

9. That no part of said realty shall ever at any time be used for the purpose of buying, selling, or handling intoxicating liquors.

10. That said realty shall not , nor shall any interest therein, at any time, be rented or leased or be occupied by any persons whose blood is not entirely that of the Caucasian race, but persons not of the Caucasian race may be kept thereon by such a Caucasian occupant strictly in the capacity of servants of such Caucasian occupant.

11. That said realty shall not, not shall any interest therein, at any time, be sold, devised, or conveyed to, or inherited by or be otherwise acquired by or become the property of any persons whose blood is not entirely that of the Caucasian race.

While provisions 10 and 11 leave no doubt that non-Caucasians are not welcome in Cheviot Knolls, the final provision in the deed hammers the point home:

12. That each and all of the condition contained in paragraph 1 to 8, inclusive, shall in all respects terminate and end and be of no further effect, either legal or equitable, after January 1, 1968, and that the conditions contained in paragraphs 9, 10, and 11 shall be perpetual and binding forever.

In other words, while restrictions about architecture or grounds could change in the foreseeable future, the developers cannot imagine a time when it would be acceptable to let non-Caucasians live there. 

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