Seized L.A. Beachfront Property Returned To Its Rightful Black Heirs

Seized L.A. Beachfront Property Returned To Its Rightful Black Heirs

Last week (July 20), on the coast of Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles county Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan gave a certified deed of land transfer to Anthony Bruce, a great-grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce. Back in 1912, the Black couple purchased the land, and named it Bruce’s Beach. After the Bruces suffered racist harassment from white neighbors in the 1920s, the Manhattan Beach City Council unfairly seized the property. The property was later transferred to the state of California in 1948.

According to CBS News, a special ceremony was held by L.A. county officials to present the upscale California oceanfront property’s deed to the rightful heirs of the Bruces, whose family originally built the beach resort for African-Americans who were discriminated against. The ceremony was the final step in a difficult process to address the loss Charles and Willa Bruce suffered over a century ago. “It will not reverse the injustice,” said California Senator Steven Bradford on the podium, who also wrote the state bill permitting the county to transfer the land to the Bruce heirs.

He added, “But it represents a bold step in the right direction, it represents a template for other states to follow.”

Janice Hahn, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors stated during the ceremony, “They told me nothing like this had ever been done before.” After learning about the property’s unethical history, she launched the challenging objective to return the land to the Bruces.

Hahn consulted with county attorneys, and in addition to the state legislation, the deed transfer required votes by board members as well as identifying who should acquire the land. The county ultimately decided that Marcus and Derrick Bruce, the great-grandsons of Charles and Willa Bruce, were the rightful legal heirs of Manhattan Beach. 

Reportedly, the great-grandsons established a company for the property. L.A. county along with the renewed owners announced the agreement for the land to be leased to the county for 24 months, paying an annual rent of $413,000 including operation and maintenance costs. The county will have the right to purchase the land for up to $20 million, if the Bruce’s accept.

Take a look at the land transfer ceremony below.

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