LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The California State Senate Wednesday unanimously approved a bill to return a valuable parcel of oceanfront property in Manhattan Beach to the descendants of a Black couple who once operated a resort there.
"It is never too late for justice," Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, who authored the bill, said. "Even 100 years later, we have the perfect opportunity to return land that was unjustly stolen from the Bruce family. SB 796 rights a wrong for a Black family who were deprived of their property because of their race, but it also sets an example for what meaningful reparations looks like, right as California considers the issue through the newly-formed Reparations Task Force."
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to have the county's chief executive to come up with a plan to return the property to the family and also put their support behind the bill, which is required to make the transfer possible due to current land restrictions.
"I want to thank our state senators who voted for this important legislation and have supported Los Angeles County's effort to return the Bruce's Beach property to the Bruce family nearly a century after it was stolen from them," County Supervisor Janice Hahn said. "It is my hope that once this legislation is signed into law, Los Angeles County can set an historic precedent for how we as a nation should go about beginning to atone for the sins of our past."
The land, just north of the Manhattan Beach Pier, was once owned by Willa and Charles Bruce, a young Black couple. Back in 1912, they purchased the land at the Strand and 26th Street and opened Bruce's Lodge — the first resort on the West Coast that served Black Americans.
However, in a time of segregation, the business did not sit well with the predominantly white neighborhood, and later the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1929, the city of Manhattan Beach took the land using eminent domain, and the property sat vacant for decades before eventually being given to the state and ultimately to L.A. County, which turned it into a city park.
Bruce's Beach is now home to the L.A. County Lifeguard Training Headquarters. But a decades-long push to return the property to the Bruce family came to a head in early April, when Supervisor Janice Hahn unveiled a plan to do just that.
The bill, State Senate Bill 796, still needs to be approved by the California State Assembly.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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