SACRAMENTO – Two priority bills authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica) have both passed a key legislative hurdle this afternoon. AB 1126, which would establish a statewide Commission on the State of Hate, passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations with a 5-2 vote. AB 721, which addresses vestiges of racist and exclusionary language in housing covenants, also passed the Senate Committee Appropriations with a 5-2 vote. “I am thankful for the support of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in both the Assembly and Senate thus far, and I look forward to their continued support when these critical pieces of legislation arrive for a vote on the Senate Floor,” Assemblymember Bloom said.
California Commission on the State of Hate – AB 1126
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s 2020 Report to the Nation, hate crime totals for 2019 hit their highest level in over a decade with over 7,000 hate “incidents” reported. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 149% and hate crimes against gay men jumped nearly 30%. Already in 2021, the Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 66% increase in hate crimes overall and a 26% increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Black people remain the number one target for hate crimes in America, at twice the level they represent in the population. “Due to the staggering statistics and challenges of monitoring, collecting, and analyzing this data, it is clear that California needs better tools and dedicated individuals to help us track and report this information,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “The Commission on the State of Hate will monitor and assess current trends relative to hate crimes, produce annual reports on these trends, and make policy recommendations in order to help the State better address, and, hopefully, reduce instances of these crimes. The Commission is necessary in order to fully understand who is perpetrating these crimes, who is being targeted, and how we can develop policy solutions to address and reduce the instances of these crimes.”
The bill, which is supported by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Equality California, and Islamic Networks Group (ING), now heads to the Senate Floor for a full vote.
Addressing Vestiges of Racist and Exclusionary Language in Housing Covenants – AB 721
Private covenants are agreements that are attached to a particular piece of property and remain enforceable even after the property is sold to a new owner. In many cases, these private covenants contain racially restrictive provisions that bar communities of color from living on the property. Much of the land in California is burdened by these private covenants that date back to the early 1900s. While court decisions and the California Legislature have made racially restrictive covenants unenforceable, these covenants often contain other vestiges of discrimination. Despite their discriminatory origin and clear conflict with local zoning, threats of lawsuits over the restrictive covenants make it difficult for affordable housing developers to get title insurance coverage and funding from lenders. “Until the mid-twentieth century, racial restrictions in housing covenants were used to redline and segregate neighborhoods,” said Assemblymember Bloom, “and while the Legislature has since made these racially restrictive covenants unenforceable, these covenants often contain other vestiges of discrimination – such as limits on the number and size of units that can be built. AB 721 is a necessary and overdue measure to remove unnecessary barriers in our efforts to tackle the housing crisis in California.”
AB 721, sponsored by groups such as the Community Corporation of Santa Monica and Public Counsel, passed Senate Committee on Appropriations today and is now headed to the Senate Floor for a vote.