LA Board of Supervisors vote in favor of returning Bruce’s Beach to Black heirs

Photo Courtesy CA Governor Newsom Office Facebook

On June 28, 2022 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to return ownership of beachfront property in California to the heirs of a black couple. The Bruces were the original owners of the prime property and had built a resort on their land. However, it was taken away from them in the 1920’s. Almost a century later, the heirs of the couple will get it back with a government lease and a future option to sell the property to the government as they got a 5-0 vote in their favor.

Willa and Charles Bruce purchased the land, in 1912. They developed the beachfront property by building a resort for Black people. The couple built the first West Coast resort for the community when there was segregation at many beaches across the nation. The property was called “Bruce’s Beach.”

Photo Courtesy CA Governor Newsom Office Facebook

Despite their pioneering efforts, they faced harassment from white neighbors. In the 1920’s Manhattan Beach City Council used eminent domain to take the land. The property was not used by the city and in 1948, the property was transferred to California. In 1995, it was transferred to LA county with restrictions that it could not be transferred again.

Supervisor Janet Hahn, of the county began the process of returning the property to Bruces’ descendants, in April 2021. The passing of a bill by the state of California that would remove the restriction on the property transfer occurred. In May, Marcus and Derrick Bruce were confirmed as the great grandsons of the Bruces and their heirs.

The transfer included an agreement wherein the property would be leased back to the county for two years. The county would pay an annual rent of $413,000 as well as operation and maintenance costs. There is an option for the county to buy the property, in future. The property is currently used as a park as well as a lifeguard training facility.

Governor Gavin Newsom offered a formal apology while the city of Manhattan Beach acknowledged and condemned the city’s action in the 1920’s. A Bruce family spokesperson called it “bittersweet.

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