Newsom signs Bill Paving Way to return foreclosed Bruce Beach to black family – CBS Los Angeles

MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) –California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a bill on Thursday that will pave the way for the return of a Manhattan Beach oceanfront property that was wrongly seized from a black family over 90 years ago.

FILE – A pedestrian walks past a marker that tells the story of Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach on April 9, 2021 (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images)

Senate Bill 796, approved by the California legislature earlier this month, leading the way for Los Angeles County to return Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family.

In 1912, the beachfront property at Strand and 26th Street was purchased by Willa and Charles Bruce for $ 1,225 and used to build a resort town to serve black residents.

However, the complex quickly became the target of the region’s white population, resulting in vandalism, attacks on black visitor vehicles, and even a 1920 attack by the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1929, Manhattan Beach City Council seized the property citing a prominent estate.

The families filed a lawsuit claiming they were victims of a racist eviction campaign. The Bruces ultimately won damages, as did other displaced families. But the Bruces were unable to reopen their resort elsewhere in town.

Ownership transferred to the state and then to LA County. It is now used as a park and as an LA County lifeguard training center.

The park which sits on some of the seized land has gone by a variety of names over the years. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the city agreed to rename the park “Bruce’s Beach” in honor of the evicted family. This honor, however, has been derided by critics as a hollow gesture towards the family.

Although state law is needed to effect the transfer to the family, more actions at the local level will always be needed. In July, LA County released a detailed plan that outlines the process of returning land to the Bruce family. In part, he calls on the county treasurer and the tax collectors’ department to work with the county public administrator’s office to determine the Bruce’s legal heirs.

The county will also have to negotiate a land transfer agreement, an agreement that eases the land tax burden on descendants when they take possession. The county will also need to find land to relocate a lifeguard facility to the site.

The Bruce family would also have the option of renting the land to LA County, which would then pay rent.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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