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Bruce’s Beach Returned to Descendant­s

- —RLN Staff

For the first time in the history of Los Angeles County and likely anywhere in the United States, land will be returned to Black descendant­s whose ancestors were robbed of their property and generation­al wealth due to unjust laws and practices rooted in systemic racism.

Just days after Juneteenth celebratio­ns took place, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor­s unanimousl­y approved a motion June 24, from Chair Holly J. Mitchell and coauthored by Supervisor Janice Hahn that returns Bruce’s Beach to the great-great grandsons of Charles and Willa Bruce.

Hahn remarked that it is never too late to right a wrong.

“The Bruce family will finally have the opportunit­y to start rebuilding the generation­al wealth that was denied them for decades,” Hahn said.

Hahn added this will be the first land transfer of its kind, but it cannot be the last; she hopes the county sets a precedent that government­s across this nation will follow.

Mitchell noted that Bruce’s Beach was a refuge for Black families who came from across the state when racist laws wouldn’t allow for any other safe beach going options.

“It holds the memories of countless Black families, the deep pain of multi-generation­al loss, and the hope that comes from facing the heinous acts of our past and having the courage to do what is right today,” Mitchell said.

The transfer agreement is the culminatio­n of years of advocacy and has taken several steps to set the county on the path to legally return the land. Hahn, alongside Mitchell, originally announced her intention to return the Bruce’s Beach property to the living descendant­s of Willa and Charles Bruce in April 2021. However, at that time the county was unable to transfer the property due to limitation­s placed on the land by the state. Hahn reached out to State Senator Steven Bradford who authored Senate bill 796, which codified into law the county’s ability to transfer the piece of public property back to private ownership.

The land being returned to the legal heirs of the Bruce family are lots 8 and 9 of Peck’s Manhattan Beach Tract, an estimated 7,000 square feet that have been appraised at a value of $21 million. These lots are currently being used by the LA County Fire Department as a lifeguard training facility. The motion authorizes the county to lease the property its lifeguard training facility is located on from the Bruce Family, LLC annually for $413,000.

Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang told RLN that the Bruce’s Beach property will be assessed based upon the 1975 value based on Prop. 13, with the incrementa­l Consumer Price Index or CPI increase of no more than 2% from then to now. The reason for this formula of assessment is embedded in the state legislatio­n to return the beach property to the Bruce family.

The Bruce family operated a thriving resort, welcoming to Black patrons when legal segregatio­n kept Black families from accessing California public beaches up until 1929 when the City of Manhattan Beach condemned the property. Through government actions, the Bruce

family lost their land, business, their home and generation­al wealth. This is a historic moment for the county in its process of addressing current and historic prejudice under its Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion initiative.

“This is a day we weren’t sure would ever come, the return of our family’s property happened thanks to the hard work of many, many people. It means the world to us,” said the family’s spokesman, Anthony Bruce.

“But it is also bitterswee­t. My great-greatgrand­parents, Willa and Charles Bruce sacrificed to open a business that gave Black people a place to gather and socialize, and Manhattan Beach took it from them because of the color of their skin,” Bruce said. “It destroyed them financiall­y. It destroyed their chance at the American Dream. I wish they could see what has happened today. We hope this opens people’s eyes to a part of American history that isn’t talked about enough,

and we think it’s a step toward trying to right the wrongs of the past.”

“I am extremely proud to have authored Senate bill 796 that allowed the County of LA to transfer the Bruce’s Beach land back to its rightful heirs,” Bradford said. “The county’s plan will accomplish my legislatio­n’s objective of rectifying the historic injustice that was done to the Bruce family. This 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 injustices done to our people in the past, but we owe it to the future generation­s to eliminate structural and systemic racism that still exist today.”

Details: Read the full motion here, www.file. lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/BrucesBeac­h

 ?? ?? Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn embraces Anthony Bruce, spokesman for the Bruce family.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn embraces Anthony Bruce, spokesman for the Bruce family.

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