Los Angeles County officials have revealed plans to return ownership of beachfront property to the descendants of a Black couple who built a resort for African Americans who were stripped out of Manhattan Beach in the 1920s.
The property is an estimated worth of $20 million, the deal will include an agreement for the county to rent the property for two years from the Bruces for $413,000 per year and maintain the country’s lifeguard training headquarters.
The proposed agreement of the unprecedented transfer of Bruce’s Beach will bring the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for a vote Tuesday, June 28.
“We will never be able to rectify the injustice that was inflicted upon the Bruce family, but this is a start, and it is the right thing to do,” said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn in a statement.
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Bruce’s Beach starts with the history of the Tongva people, who were stretched throughout the coast before real estate claimed properties in the early 1900 and built what is known as Manhattan Beach.
In 1912, Charles and Willa Bruce purchased the beachfront property and started their successful beach resort that has been known as Bruce’s Beach. It was one of the few places where Black families could enjoy their days by the beach.
They faced racist harassment from neighbors and in 1924 city officials took the land through eminent domain. The urgent need was for a public park.
For decades the property was empty, it was transferred to the state in 1948 and then the county in 1995.
Hahn launched the process of returning the property to the heirs of the Bruces in April 2021. According to the motion, the county completed the process confirming that Marcus and Derrick Bruce are the legal heirs of the property.
“At long last, the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce will be able to begin rebuilding the wealth that has been denied to generations of Bruce's since their property was seized nearly a century ago,” said Hahn.
This is just the beginning of fixing the wrongs from a century ago.