Returning Bruce’s Beach to the Rightful Owner

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SACRAMENTO ­– The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors June 28, voted, (5-0), to complete the Return of Bruce’s Beach to the legal heirs of Charles and Willa Bruce. Senator Steven Bradford authored the landmark, first in a nation legislation Senate Bill 796 (2021), which authorized the County of Los Angeles to return the beachfront property known as Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family.

In 1912, a young Black couple named Willa and Charles Bruce purchased beachfront property in Manhattan Beach and built a resort run by and serving Black residents. It was one of the few beaches where Black residents could go because so many other local beaches were off-limits to people of color. The Bruces and their customers were harassed and threatened by white neighbors and targeted by the KKK. In 1924, the Manhattan Beach City Council moved to seize the property using eminent domain. The City took the property in 1929 and it remained vacant for decades. The property the Bruce family once owned was later transferred to the State and in 1995 transferred to Los Angeles County. Despite the Statewide efforts to return the property, the City of Manhattan Beach has yet to apologize for the racially-motivated misdeed that the city perpetrated in 1924, when the city utilized eminent domain which stripped the Bruces and other Black families of their property, business and generational wealth.

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According to the county’s transfer documents approved June 28, the county will sign a 24-month lease agreement with the Bruce Family and rent the property from them for an annual rent of $413,000. The Lease Agreement also includes the Bruce’s’ right to require the county to acquire the property within a certain timeframe, and the county’s right to purchase from the Bruce Family within a certain timeframe, for a purchase price not to exceed $20 million.

“This agreement will allow the Bruce family to realize the generational wealth which they have been deprived for generations, simply for being Black in America! We cannot change the past, but we owe it to the future generations to eliminate structural and systemic racism that still exist today,” explained Senator Bradford.

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