This month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with its plan to return a multi-million dollar beachfront property to a Black family that had its land stripped from them during the era of segregation. Created by the county CEO’s office and the anti-racism, diversity and inclusion Initiative, the plan seeks to do the following: transfer the land to the family of Charles and Willa Bruce, assess the property’s worth, determine who the legal heirs are, limit the property tax burden on the Bruce family and establish a location for the area's lifeguard station.
“We are on an important road to set a precedent that could be replicated across the country as we work to put actions behind our commitment to an anti-racist agenda and anti-racist county,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told The Daily Breeze.
“We cannot achieve racial equity until we confront our past and make it right.”
The process of returning an expensive piece of Manhattan Beach property to the family of Charles and Willa Bruce has not been easy. In 1912, the Black couple purchased the land for $1,225 and opened the Bruce’s Beach Lodge, a recreational haven for Black families in the area during the early 20th century. After a decade of operation, Bruce's Beach Lodge was shut down after local officials used eminent domain to seize a portion of the property. By 1948, the couple lost virtually all of its land to either the city, county or state.
Nearly a century passed before members of the state Senate introduced a bill to return the beachfront property to the descendants of Bruce and Willa Bruce. Just three months after the bill was introduced, it appears that the Bruce family will repossess $75 million worth of property, but there's still a lot to be sorted out.
“As we wait for it to pass, there are some other questions we need to address locally,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn explained.
“The report has answers to all the questions and shows that it is possible and legal to transfer this land back to its rightful owners, but there’s a lot we still need to do.”