Historic Bruce’s Beach Property Sold for $20 Million, Ending Century-Long Battle

Sale finalized on January 30

By Dolores Quintana

There has been some controversy surrounding the sale of Bruce’s Beach back to Los Angeles County as reported by LA Sentinel.com.  The heirs of Charles and Willa Bruce, the owners of Bruce’s Beach sold the property back to Los Angeles County for $20 million on January 30 after the property was transferred to their hands in July of 2021 after Los Angeles County Supervisor Janet Hahn announced that the illegally seized land would be returned to Bruce’s descendants. 

Then the opinions started to fly.

Attorney and co-founder of the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) group said on his podcast on January 6, as quoted by LA Sentinel, “In essence, we are going to give them back the property but not assess any of the generational costs,” he said. “And then we (the county of Los Angeles) are going to create all types of limitations on the way they can access and use that property.” He added, “I am not here to attack this family. I am more so here to question how we got here.”

Moore continued by saying, “The fact that this was sold back for $20 million should have everyone in an uproar. The fact that the (California) Reparations Task Force has literally said nothing about this is an abject failure in my view.” and added that the sale “doesn’t seem to be at fair market value.” He claims that the land is worth much more than $20 million after doing his research on local real estate in the area. Moore also likened the sale option presented to the Bruce family to “housing discrimination.”

Attorney George C. Fatheree III said, on the radio show hosted by Tavis Smiley, as quoted by LA Sentinel, “The return of the property and the ability to sell the property and take funds and invest it in a way that’s important to their lives represents an important opportunity for my clients to get a glimpse of that legacy that was theirs.” and that the decision to sell the property back to Los Angeles county was based on the fact that any development of the property would be hampered by the approvals that the family would be required to get from the city and the county entities before they would be able to develop the land specifically from the city of Manhatten Beach and The California Coastal Commission which is normally a difficult and prolonged process no matter who you are. 

Just getting the approvals to return the land to the Bruce’s heirs took approval from the LA County Supervisors, an act of the state congress and the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom. The family was given only two options from Los Angeles County once they took possession of Bruce’s Beach. Either they could lease the property to the County for $413,000 a year or sell it back for $20 million which doesn’t really give the Bruce family much in the way of choice. Part of the legacy of their loss of the generational wealth ownership of Bruce’s Beach is that they might not have the resources necessary to develop the land or wait out the development process. 

The opinions aired on social media were strong. One post said, “I find this ‘debate’ infuriating. The return of the land which allowed the family the opportunity to make their own decision on *how* they would be able to benefit financially is exactly how reparations should work.” Another said, “Wow. All those years and they decided to sell it.. 20 million divided by 4 plus lawyer fees in California smh They still got screwed. Whatever is best for them but I definitely would’ve done something with it to make a bigger statement.” 

L.A. County Supervisor for the 2nd District Holly J. Mitchell said, via a press release, “I fully support the self-determination of Black people and families like the Bruce’s to decide what is best for their lives and legacy,” Mitchell stated. “I will continue to advocate for the Bruce family to be fully informed and prepared for the immediate and long-term implications of this sale.” and that she was “proud” that the land was returned to the family and the state and county of Los Angeles “systematic racist acts that have cost Black families generational wealth.” Mitchell also added, “The return of Bruce’s Beach to the rightful heirs of Charles and Willa Bruce will continue to serve as an example of what is possible across the globe when you have the political will and leadership to correct the injustices of the past.”

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