Multi-Million Dollar California Beach Property Taken From Black Owners Allowed For Return | New


Some of the prime beachfront real estate in Southern California can now be returned to the descendants of its rightful black owners, nearly a century after the plot was taken by the city of Manhattan Beach.

Known as Bruce’s Beach, the resort had offered black families a place to enjoy California life and was a labor of love for owners Charles and Willa Bruce. But the harassment of white neighbors and the Ku Klux Klan ripped their dreams away. The final blow came in 1924 when the city took ownership through a prominent estate and paid the couple a fraction of what they asked for. The city wanted the land for a park.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a law that will allow the county to return the beachfront property to their descendants. The two lots are worth around $ 75 million in total, officials confirmed to CNN earlier this year. The homes right next to the property are priced at around $ 7 million each.

The new law was drafted by Senator Steve Bradford, who sits on the new state reparations task force.

“This is what the repairs look like,” Bradford said, insisting the county is not giving the Bruce family anything, but simply returning their stolen property.

The Bruces bought the land for $ 1,225 in 1912 and built several facilities, including a cafe and changing rooms. It was one of the few beaches that black residents could go to because so many other local beaches did not allow black bathers.

But some white neighbors resented the resort’s popularity, a spokesperson for the Bruce family told CNN earlier this year.

White supremacists and Klan members posted “no trespassing” signs and punctured tires so black families would avoid the area. The KKK attempted to set the property on fire and managed to burn down the home of a local black family nearby, county officials said earlier this year.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn told reporters that when scare tactics didn’t work, Manhattan Beach declared a prominent estate in 1924. The couple were ultimately paid around $ 14,125. They died five years later.

The city left the land vacant for several decades after taking possession of it in 1929.

Today the property is now a park with a lawn, parking and a lifeguard training center.

It no longer belongs to Manhattan Beach. Ownership transferred to the State and County of Los Angeles in 1995.

When county supervisors attempted to return the property to the Bruce family last spring, they found the state’s eminent estate law prevented them from doing so.

“If the Bruces had been allowed to keep the property they bought, the impact it would have had on generations not only of descendants of the Bruce family, but also on other African Americans who began to buy property. plots around Bruce’s Beach, ”said Holly, Los Angeles County Supervisor. Mitchell.

“The law was used to steal this property 100 years ago, and today’s law will return it,” said Hahn, who will take the next steps to identify Willa and Charles Bruce’s legal heirs and possibly return ownership to the family. .

“I hope people in California understand the importance of trying to right this wrong,” said Shepard, the family spokesperson.

State Senator Bradford said Charles and Willa Bruce’s story is not unique to California.

“Black-owned properties have suffered tremendous amounts of hatred, harassment, hostility and violence from the Ku Klux Klan, which in cold blood threatened the Bruces and other families who dared enjoy their property. “


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CNN’s Alexandra Meeks contributed to this report.

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