*The Black descendants of a couple who owned a stretch of beachfront property (Bruce’s Beach) in Los Angeles County that was seized by the government during the 1920s will receive reparations totaling $413,000 a year.
In July, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to return a stretch of beachfront land in Southern California to the descendants of a Black couple who purchased the land 97 years ago. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law allowing ownership of the land to be transferred to the heirs of a couple.
Willa and Charles Bruce built the resort for Black people in the early 1900s. The couple purchased land on Manhattan Beach in 1912, making them among the first Black landowners in the city. As reported by ABC News, 12 years later they were forced off their property after it was seized by the city.
The city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force the couple off their land. The property was seized in 1929 and remained vacant for decades. The area is now known as a wealthy celebrity enclave of Manhattan Beach.
Willa and Charles Bruce’s great-great-grandson Charles Bruce along with his uncle and father will be reimbursed by the county for the property, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Here’s more from the Washington Examiner:
The property will be transferred to the Bruce family and leased back by the county, which will pay operation and maintenance costs. The county will also have an option to buy the land for $20 million after the first two years.
The area is one of the priciest on the coast — a 3,000-square-foot home near the property is listed for sale at $13.5 million, according to Zillow.com. The Bruce family paid just $1,225 in 1912 and were evicted in 1924. The legal wrangling to fix the situation has taken years because no precedent exists.
“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 Newsom signed the bill. “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.”
Last year, a federal judge condemned the county’s racist history of property seizures based on race.
“As its Black population increased by tens of thousands, Los Angeles utilized racially restrictive covenants, redlining, and eminent domain to racially segregate neighborhoods,” U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote in a 109-page order.
“An uptick in Ku Klux Klan violence further targeted Black families who resided in majority white neighborhoods — including widespread cross burnings, bombings, and drive-by shootings,” he continued. “In Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County employed eminent domain to take property from Black families and turn the land into a whites-only park.”