Many restorative justice and reparations activists lauded Los Angeles County when it returned Bruce’s Beach, an oceanfront property in southern California, to the descendants of the Black couple it was stolen from through eminent domain in 1924.
Now Black America has plenty to say about the family’s decision to sell it back to the local government for $20 million less than six months after they were restored as its rightful owners in July 2022.
In 1912, Willa and Charles Bruce became the first Black landowners in Manhattan Beach. The couple purchased their two plots for $1,225 and turned them into the only beachfront resort for Black residents in the community.
It was condemned and taken from the Bruce family by the city council using eminent domain after years of harassment and complaints by racist white residents who didn’t want Black people in their community.
Officials said they needed the land to build a park, but it remained untouched for years.
The Bruces sued the city and eventually got small settlements, but not nearly the amount the land was worth. Beginning in 2021, LA County worked for over a year to right that wrong. The victory gave hope to other Black American families fighting to have illegally seized land returned.
Prior media reports stated the value of the property was over $75 million and many assumed it had gained even more equity once the transfer of ownership was completed last year.
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However, the MB News reported the specific property once owned by the Bruce family was appraised at $20 million. It is the same amount the family will receive from the county.
“This fight has always been about what is best for the Bruce family, and they feel what is best for them is selling this property back to the County for nearly $20 million and finally rebuilding the generational wealth they were denied for nearly a century,” Janice Hahn, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, said in a statement on Facebook.
When Bruce’s Beach was returned, the county signed an agreement to lease the land from the family for $413,000 per month as it is the LA County Fire Department site as a lifeguard training facility. The agreement also included an option for the county to purchase the land from the family for $20 million.
Many Black Americans felt some type of way about the announced sale and weighed in with their thoughts.
“These fools just sold 100 million dollars of dirt for 20 million. SMH,” @dwannb tweeted. “These niggas got hustled. I checked the comps last year and 75 was a low ball number. They took 20… smh,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
“Apparently, there was a clause in the paperwork that they couldn’t sell the property for more than 20 million,” @simplissticoasis responded. “They knew they’d eventually sell back the property probably due to taxes and they’d sell it for a tremendous loss.”
“That’s what I dislike about us, we never think about generational wealth, or inheritance. Damn near everything we have is for sale,” @GCode118 wrote. “I’m for reparations but the real ones need to come together now and build.”
“This is unbelievable. I’m sure there were other options. This is a low ball offer,” @got_tobeme tweted. “I wish they could have reached out to the grass roots for direction and assistance.”
“Sad! All that fighting to get the property back only to basically give it away…SMDH!” @MeshiaG1.
However, some users defended the Bruce family’s right to sell, with some noting unknown factors could be at play.
“This was their’s to sell in the first place,” @ChaseSavage404 wrote. “Why are we all acting like this was ours? Do you brother want someone to tell you what to do with your check?”
“Is it possible that the family couldn’t afford the taxes on the property so selling was the only option?” @kamilleh832 asked a critic.
“It’s possible that they got an opportunity to do something huge with the money that will lead to a greater than $100 million value,” @CBAC_USA wrote. “Assets are for trading, monetizing not and building generational wealth not hoarding for sentimental reasons. Who knows what dreams they have?”
“M’fers always have an opinion without knowing all of the facts. Especially our people,” @KingDolphin responded.
According to a report by The Associated Press, California State Sen. Steven Bradford “said he supported the heirs’ decision to sell it to the county because current zoning regulations would prevent them from developing it in an economically beneficial manner.”
Bradford collaborated with Hahn and LA County on the land return.
PHOTO: Anthony Bruce, from left, a great-great grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce; wife, Sandra; Kavon Ward, founder of Justice for Bruce’s Beach; Derrick Bruce, great grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce; Chief Duane Yellow Feather Shepard and Mitch Ward attend a dedication ceremony in Manhattan Beach, Calif., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Southern California beachfront property that was taken from Willa and Charles Bruce, a black couple, through eminent domain a century ago and returned to their heirs in 2022 will be sold back to Los Angeles County for nearly $20 million. The decision to sell what was once known as Bruce’s Beach was announced Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, by local and state officials who led governmental efforts to undo the long-ago injustice. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong,File)