California Reparations Task Force Calls for State Agency to Have Veto Power Over Local Real Estate  Decisions

California’s Reparations Task Force May 6, 2022 Panel


The California Reparations Task Force, formed in 2020, recently voted in favor of recommendations that could include payments of a minimum of $360,000 to each eligible black resident in the state.

According to the California Attorney General’s website, “The purpose of the committee is ‘(1) to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans; (2) to recommend appropriate ways to educate the California public of the task force’s findings; and (3) to recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Task Force’s findings.’”

An additional recommendation centers around taking away local decision making in real estate ordinances in the state.  According to Fox News,”California’s reparations task force is calling for the state legislature to require all cities and counties with allegedly segregated neighborhoods to submit all their real estate ordinances to a state agency for approval based on whether they maintain or lessen ‘residential racial segregation.'”

The recommendations would “Require state review and approval of all residential land use ordinances enacted by historically and currently segregated cities and counties.”

From the report:

Residential zoning ordinances have been used for decades in California to prevent African Americans from moving into neighborhoods, thereby maintaining residential segregation. Various laws were also used to prevent additional housing from being built, effectively shutting out African Americans.

To address local zoning laws that reinforce and recreate this systemic housing segregation, the Task Force recommends that the Legislature: (1) identify California cities and counties that have historically redlined neighborhoods and whose current levels of residential racial segregation are statistically similar to the degree of segregation in that city or county when it was redlined; (2) require identified cities and counties to submit all residential land use ordinances for review and approval by a state agency, with the agency rejecting (or requiring modification of) the ordinance if the agency finds that the proposed ordinance will maintain or exacerbate levels of residential racial segregation; and (3) remove this process of additional review and approval for identified cities or counties if the city or county eliminates a certain degree of housing segregation in its geographic territory.

Scholars have found that similar efforts by California to influence localities’ residential zoning decisions—through state supervisory authority—has had some beneficial effects. In the early 1990s, about a quarter of California jurisdictions had a Housing and Community Development- approved housing element in place, whereas today, about 77 percent of California jurisdictions have a Housing and Community Development-approved housing element.

As an alternative to state review and approval of ordinances in the localities described above, the state could adopt a post-hoc approach by creating an administrative appeal board to review challenges to developmental permitting decisions or zoning laws and reversing the denial of a development permit if the underlying zoning requirement is deemed to maintain or reinforce residential racial segregation.

The fate of the task force recommendations is unclear. The Gateway Pundit reported that California Governor Gavin Newsom, in a statement to Fox News, applauded the task force’s work though he sidestepped endorsing any specific recommendations.


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