The Washington Examiner reports that Los Angeles County is set to pay reparations and return ownership of the beachfront property to the Black descendants of a couple who owned Bruce’s Beach, which the government stripped during the 1920s.
Known as Bruce’s Beach, the oceanfront park traces back to what was the City of Manhattan Beach in the early 1900s. In 1912, Charles and Willa Bruce purchased the property and built a successful beach resort — one of the few places where Black families could enjoy the lush amenities of a lodge, cafe, and dance hall.
However, they faced ongoing racial discrimination, including redlining. City officials seized the property in 1924 through eminent domain. A law was passed prohibiting the construction of similar businesses to drive the Bruces out of town. The California Senate wrote a bill authorizing the return of the property to the family’s descendants.
“The law was used to steal this property 100 years ago, and the law today will give it back,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said at a press conference when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill in September. “My goal over the next several months will be to transfer this property in a way that not only works for the Bruce family — but is a model that other local governments can follow.”
According to NBC Los Angeles, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn launched the process of returning the property to the heirs of the Bruces in April 2021. It was confirmed 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.
For decades, the property, estimated to be worth $20 million, was empty. It was transferred to the state in 1948 and then the county in 1995. Now nearly a century later, the LA County wants to right a government wrong by renting the property for two years from the Bruces for $413,000 per year, per the news outlet.
“The court finds where the appropriation of public funds and/or property is to address and/or remedy racial discrimination committed by the government, it serves a public purpose,” Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff wrote in his April 14 ruling.
“Righting a government wrong perpetrated in breach of our core and fundamental constitutional principles works to strengthen governmental integrity, represents accountability in government, and works to eliminate structural racism and bias,” he continued.