Becoming a Welcoming Community
Over the past year in our Currents Neighborhood Spotlight series, community members have shared what they love about our 14 unique neighborhoods. From their favorite parks to public art pieces, from neighborhood events to unique shops, each of our neighborhoods has something to offer. We also learned a lot about the history of our city.
Today, our neighborhoods pride themselves on being open and welcoming communities. However, that has not always been the case. This community, along with many other communities in the Pacific Northwest, has not always been a welcoming place for people of color, indigenous people, and religious and ethnic minorities. The racial covenants that began appearing in housing developments in our area in the 1920s are prime examples.
As our area developed, many housing developments included exclusionary covenants to keep racial, ethnic, and religious minorities out. People often point to Innis Arden and the racial covenants that first appeared there in 1941 prohibiting any property within the development from being “sold, conveyed, rented or leased…to any person not of the White or Caucasian race.” However, the first racial covenant in Shoreline actually appeared in Briarcrest in 1928. What many people do not know is that similar racial covenants and other exclusionary covenants existed in neighborhoods throughout Shoreline, including in Ballinger, Briarcrest, Echo Lake, Hillwood, North City, Richmond Beach, Richmond Highlands, Ridgecrest, and Westminster Triangle. In fact, restrictive covenants existed in almost every neighborhood north of Seattle’s ship canal.
February is Black History Month. As we celebrate the contributions made by African-Americans in our community and around the nation, it is important to also reflect upon the history of segregation and exclusion in Shoreline. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that racial covenants could not be enforced, realtors and property owners could still discriminate based on race until passage of the Housing Rights Act in 1968. Because of this history of formal and informal segregation, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that minorities felt more comfortable moving into communities where restrictive covenants formerly existed.
While we have much to be proud of, we should never become complacent and forget our history. We should strive to never repeat it. Today, we take pride in the growing diversity of our community. We know it to be a source of creativity, innovation, and strength.
On January 23, 2017, the City Council passed a resolution proclaiming Shoreline to be a welcoming community. Below is an excerpt from Resolution No. 401:
"The City is committed to ensuring that Shoreline remains a welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for all who live, work, and visit here. The City recognizes and upholds the rights of individuals to be treated fairly and to live their lives with dignity and respect and free from discrimination or targeting because of their immigration status, faith, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, age, ability, ethnicity, housing status, economic status, or other social status."