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LA County Releases Plan To Transfer Bruce's Beach To Legal Heirs

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County has released a detailed plan for returning a parcel of oceanfront Manhattan Beach property to descendants of a Black family evicted from the property decades ago.

Manhattan Beach Shoreline Property Seized From Black Family In The 20's To Be Returned To Family's Heirs
MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 19: A photo of Charles and Willa Bruce is attached to a plaque marking Bruce's Beach on April 19, 2021 in Manhattan Beach, California. The beachfront property was once a seaside resort owned by Charles and Willa Bruce, a Black couple, which catered to African Americans. Amid the Jim Crow era, the city claimed the property in 1924 through eminent domain while vastly underpaying the couple for the land. Los Angeles County is making plans to return the prime beachfront property, which may be worth $75 million, to Bruce family descendants. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The plan, released Wednesday, walks through a series of steps required to return the land to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce, including assessing the property's value, identifying the Bruces' legal heirs and figuring out what to do with a county lifeguard station currently located on the property.

"When I first realized that the county owned the property that was once Willa and Charles Bruce's Beach Lodge, I knew that returning it to the Bruce family was the right thing to do," Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. "But this is the first time a government has done anything like this and there were a lot of questions about how it would work."

Hahn said the report outlines a "clear pathway" forward in the process, and even takes into consideration the tax burden that the legal heirs might face.

"I am committed to getting this done and setting an example for governments nationwide for how we can begin to right the historic injustices committed against African Americans in this country," she said.

Before the parcels of land, owned by the county, can be transferred to the family, the state legislature needs to authorize the move and, locally, a return might have to include rezoning the property, which would require approval from local agencies including the California Coastal Commission.

According to the plan, the county Treasurer and Tax Collector Department will work jointly with the County Public Administrator's Office to determine the Bruces' legal heirs, possibly in conjunction with a third-party law firm.

The county will also have to negotiate an agreement for the land transfer and find land to relocate the lifeguard facility.

The county's CEO's Office and and Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is expected to get back to the board in about four months.

The plan did not provide a date by which the land would need to be formally transferred.

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

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