Bruce's Beach Will Be Sold to La County by the Black Family

Bruce’s Beach Will Be Sold to La County by the Black Family

Bruce’s Beach Will Be Sold to La County by the Black Family: Due to the color of their skin, a Southern Californian local government expropriated Bruce’s Beach from its Black proprietors nearly a century ago. After a protracted battle to reclaim the property, the owners’ descendants succeeded, and they now want to sell it to Los Angeles County for close to $20 million.

Last summer, the transfer of Bruce’s Beach to the heirs of Willa and Charles Bruce was lauded as a positive step toward redressing the wrongs caused by institutional racism. According to county officials, the impending sale will help some of the Bruce family’s riches that were taken from them in 1924.

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A new chapter will begin in Bruce’s Beach.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn explained the strategy on Tuesday: “This fight has always been about what is best for the family, and they feel what is best for them is selling this property back to the County for nearly $20 million.” The Bruce family will be able to “finally recover the generational riches they were denied for nearly a century” thanks to the sale, according to Hahn.

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As NPR’s Joe Hernandez reported last year, the city of Manhattan Beach attempted to condemn Bruce’s Beach in 1924, closing down what had swiftly developed into a prosperous resort for Black families — and one of the only places where they were guaranteed access to a beach. Later, the state and LA County received ownership of the site.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California approved a bill in 2021 that made it possible for the Bruce family to reclaim ownership of the beach. According to NBC Los Angeles, Newsom said at the time, “I want to apologize to the Bruce family for the injustice that was done to them.” “Our history hasn’t always been one of pride.”

A plan for LA County to lease the property for $413,000 annually as part of the procedure that gave the beach back to the Bruces. Additionally, it offered the chance to purchase the site for up to $20 million.

What occurs next to the beach property is unclear. The county was only permitted to use the beach area for recreational purposes and was prohibited from transferring the land under earlier California legislation. However, the law that made it possible for the Bruce family to reclaim ownership of the property did not contain the same clauses.

The success of the Black resort infuriated white neighbors.

Examining records from the Jim Crow era revealed that the use of the eminent domain to take the beachfront land and close the resort was driven by the skin tone of Willa and Charles Bruce as requests for the restoration of Bruce’s Beach mounted in recent years.

Willa Bruce, whose husband worked as a cook on a train line connecting California and Utah, was the resort’s driving force behind its success when it first opened as the Bruce Beach Front in the summer of 1912.

According to a 2021 report from a task group created by the city of Manhattan Beach, Willa Bruce was reported at the time as saying, “I own this land and I am going to keep it.” Everywhere we have tried to buy land for a beach resort we have been rejected.

According to task force-cited records, Bruce’s business, however, caused adjacent white landowners to fear an “invasion” by Black people. The task commission also states that the neighbors “resented the resort’s rising popularity and success.”

In the end, their attempts to damage the resort were successful: This two-block area, which was home to several minority families, was condemned through eminent domain procedures that started in 1924, the city later noted on a historical marker at the location.

The city destroyed the resort’s structures after seizing control of it, although it never carried out the alleged plan to develop a park there. The state’s 2021 law says that the municipal council also decided to forbid the opening of any additional resorts to stop the Bruces from moving their business elsewhere.

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Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell commented on the impending sale in a statement, stating that the restoration of the land “will continue to serve as an example of what is possible across the globe when you have the political will and leadership to address the injustices of the past.”