The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has finalized their plan to return "Bruce's Beach" to the descendants of the Bruce family, from whom it was wrongfully eminent domained over a century ago. For the next two years, the family will be paid slightly over $400k/year in rent for the park, with the county maintaining a right to buy the property back for $20M.
This action may lead the way for a number of wrongs to be righted, at least partially. I am sure $20.8M is fantastic, but I think the lost value over 100 years of a beach resort in Southern California far exceeds this compensation.
When racism failed to drive this Black beach community out of town, city officials in 1924 condemned the neighborhood known as Bruce's Beach and seized more than two dozen properties through eminent domain, claiming a park was urgently needed. For decades, the land sat empty. The Bruces' two parcels were transferred to the state in 1948, then to L.A. County in 1995; Manhattan Beach eventually turned the other lots into a park.
The lots bought by Willa Bruce over a century ago will now enter escrow and be transferred to the Bruce family, which will rent the property to the county for $413,000 a year. The county also retains a right to later buy the property for $20 million.
A grass-roots group is pushing for similar reparations for five other Black California families in Santa Monica, Palm Springs, Coloma, Hayward and Canyon with stories similar to the Bruces'. And Indigenous communities — including the local Tongva, Acjachemen and Tataviam — are also calling for future return of their ancestral lands.