93 years after the takeover, Bruce’s land on a Southern California beach could be back to the family by the end of July.

Two oceanfront properties in Manhattan Beach could be back in the hands of their heirs by the end of next month, 93 years after the original owners, who were black, seized their property through racially motivated eminent domain.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote next week to approve an agreement to formally return the land that was once a seaside resort called Bru’s Beach Lodge to the descendants of the original owners and then lease it to them.

Supporters say returning the land to the Bruce family will be the first real act of reparation in the country.

“This is the first time (the return of land to a black family) in US history,” said Anthony Bruce, great-great-grandson of the original owners, on Thursday, June 23. administrators of this lot.”

Supervisors will almost certainly approve the agreement on Tuesday, June 28. And after a 30-day closing period, Marcus and Derrick Bruce, great-grandchildren of owners Willa and Charles Bruce, will finally inherit the 7,000 square feet of waterfront property. estimated at $20 million.

The county will give the land to the Bruces without any restrictions on its use.

Anthony Bruce, son of Derrick Bruce, heads Bruce Family LLC, which will manage the property.

Anthony and his brother Michael will also share the inheritance equally with their father and uncle, said Duane Shepard, Bruce’s descendant and family spokesman.

After the Bruces receive the document, according to the agreement, they will lease the property to the county for $413,000 a year for two years. After that, the family will have the opportunity to sell the property to the county for $20 million.

Both parties will pay closing costs, although the county will reimburse the Bruces $50,000 as per the agreement. This money is then to be donated to a non-profit legal service provider that helps the Bruces with transactions.

The Bruces will be responsible for paying all property taxes for the current financial year and subsequent years.

Los Angeles County currently operates a ground rescue training station. This use will continue during the lease, with the District paying for all O&M costs in accordance with the agreement.

According to Anthony Bruce, there is no plan yet on what to do with the property after the lease expires as everyone comes together to see where they can go as a family.

Tuesday’s vote will be the cornerstone of more than a year of legislative maneuvering to return land to the Bruces.

This difficult process began in April 2021 with the introduction of Bill 796 in the State Senate, which removed transaction restrictions that prevented the county from transferring property. The county’s supervisors supported the bill, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in September.

The two sites were once home to a Black-owned seaside resort that served as a retreat for them in the early 20th century, when African Americans did not have access to the coast.

But Manhattan Beach used the eminent domain to take over two lots owned by Willa and Charles Bruce and other properties. As historical records show, the reason for the remarkable effort to create the domain was the exclusion of blacks from Manhattan Beach.

The city still owns the land to the east of Bruce’s former beach house. This land lay vacant for decades before the city turned it into a park; over time, the recreation area was renamed Bruce Beach Park.

Lots owned by the Bruces – bordering 26th and 27th streets, as well as Manhattan Avenue and the Strand – became public property in 1948. The state transferred the lots to Los Angeles County in 1995.

Co-authored by overseers Janice Khan and Holly Mitchell, it was proposed to complete the return of the Bruce land.

Khan, whose supervisory district included Manhattan Beach before the redistricting, said in a statement this week that the time has come for Bruce’s descendants to restore the wealth their family has been deprived of for generations.

“We will never be able to undo the injustice done to the Bruce family,” Khan said, “but this is only the beginning, and rightly so.”

Mitchell, who now represents Manhattan Beach after a decade-long redistricting process, also said in a statement that the land should never have been taken.

“Now we are on the cusp of redemption and justice that is long overdue,” Mitchell said, paying tribute to “a worldwide coalition of activists who have fought for years for justice for the Bruce family.”

The battle to get Bruce Beach’s package back to his family began with activist Cavon Ward in June 2020, just days after the police murder of George Floyd.

Ward planned a picnic at Bruce Beach Park to celebrate. June 16the anniversary of when the last group of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they were free on June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

At the event, Ward also drew attention to why the 2020 picnic site, originally intended as a black getaway, has now become a hilly, grassy public recreation area.

This event sparked a movement that resulted in the passage of a state law to remove restrictions on the Bruce Beach case.

“I’m excited,” Ward said Thursday. “I am filled with gratitude for being used as a vessel to help make this happen.”

While Ward said she always knew she was called to do something like thatshe said she never thought it would be this big.

“I’m still a little surprised,” Ward said, “because I never thought I’d be in the middle of such a sweeping change in justice and change in this country.”

And there are many more changes ahead, she said.

Ward’s national organization, Where’s My Land, is working with at least five other California families who have had their land taken away. Where’s My Land is trying to get that land back and/or financial restitution for these families.

“We are celebrating this victory,” Ward said, “but we are getting ready to keep fighting.

“The looting of the black land is an epidemic that has hit blacks across the country,” Ward added. “It’s time not only for reparative justice, but for people who claim to be protecting black lives to stop talking about what needs to change and actually talk about the actions that need to be taken to create that change.”

While heirs won’t be limited in how they use the property, Ward said they could be “stuck between a rock and a hard place” because Manhattan Beach has the power to change zoning laws as to what types of properties can operate in it. coastal zone. .

If the family decides to sell to the county, Ward said she would like the $20 million to be used to subsidize housing for black entrepreneurs like Willa and Charles, as well as artists, activists and actors who have moved to California to pursue their dreams. and now homeless because they can’t afford the rent.

“As a blackland reclaiming movement, we have a social responsibility not only to take back the blacklands,” Ward said, “but to provide safe, secure, and comfortable housing for other black entrepreneurs who cannot fully realize their dreams. ”

Shepard said the heir verification process delayed the transfer as more than 100 people falsely claimed to be Bruce’s direct descendants.

“It was a battle,” Shepard said. “I’m just happy, very glad that the moment has finally come when the family is going to take back their land.”

According to him, Shepard has been researching his family’s genealogy since 1994 and in 2017 discovered Willa and Charles’ connections to himself and other members of the Bruce family.

“It’s been a long road,” he said, “but I never imagined it would happen so quickly from 2020.”

Anthony Bruce said on Thursday that he and his family were stunned but grateful that this is happening these days. The family also wants to live up to the legacy of Willa and Charles Bruce.

“The few descendants who are left alive,” he said, “will strive to ensure that (Villa and Charles) labor and success are not in vain.”

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