The Bruce's Beach heirs will sell the land back to the Los Angeles area for $20 million

California has returned land seized from Willa and Charles Bruce in 1920 to their heirs last year as part of its reparations policy.

The southern California beachfront property that was seized from a black couple through a prominent domain a century ago and returned to their heirs last year will be sold back to the Los Angeles area for nearly $20 million, officials said Tuesday.

The sale comes as the state of California continues to consider financial reparations for the government's treatment of black Americans, including government foreclosures of property, housing discrimination, excess policies and health disparities. The heirs decision to sell what was once known as Bruce's Beach was announced by Janice Hahn, chairman of the county board of trustees, and Steven Bradford, a state senator, who are leading local and state government efforts to undo long-standing injustices.

"This fight has always been about what's best for the Bruce family, and they feel what's best for them is selling this property back to the county for nearly $20 million and finally rebuilding the generational wealth they've denied for nearly a century," Hahn said in a statement. a statement.

Land in Manhattan Beach was purchased in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who, against opposition from white residents, built a small seaside resort for African Americans on Santa Monica Bay, near Los Angeles.

The Bruce family suffered racist abuse from white neighbors and were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, and the Manhattan Beach city council condemned the property in the 1920s and appropriated it through prominent domains. The city did nothing with the property, and it was transferred to the state of California and then to the Los Angeles area.

The Bruce family is left destitute, with Willa and Charles forced to work as cooks for other people's companies, rather than run their own resort, descendants say. Instead of inheriting the family fortune, many of Bruce's descendants struggled financially, with many living below the poverty line, Duane Yellow Feather Shepard told the Guardian in 2021.

“This hits them hard – there are student loans they can pay off, there are mortgages they may not even have. They will be multimillionaires,” said Shepard.

Bernard Bruce, Willa and Charles' grandson, has spent decades trying to restore the family legacy. “He is obsessed with it, because he knows how valuable it is. He was trying to reclaim the land for most of his life,” his grandson, Anthony Bruce, told the Guardian in 2021.

In 2006, Bernard managed to get a historic plaque on the land to mark the Bruce family's contribution, but the 86-year-old died of Covid-19 in January 2021, some 18 months before local officials finally voted to return the land. to his family.

Family members were "thrilled" when the land was returned in 2022, said Shepard, calling it "the start of an effort to rebuild generational wealth lost through illegal acts".

Bradford, who wrote the state's statute allowing land returns, said he supported the heirs' decision to sell it to the county because current zoning regulations would prevent them from developing it in an economically profitable way.

Terms of the transfer agreement finalized last June called for the property to be leased back to the county for 24 months, for an annual rent of $413,000 plus all operating and maintenance costs, and a possible sale back to the county of nearly $20 million, an estimated value.

Anthony Bruce, a spokesman for the family, said in a statement when the property was originally returned in 2022 that the restoration effort had been meaningful, but bittersweet.

“My great-grandfathers, Willa and Charles Bruce, made sacrifices to open a business that gave black people a place to hang out and socialize, and Manhattan Beach took that away from them because of the color of their skin,” he says.

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