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Vote On Future Of Bruce’s Beach Set For Tuesday – CBS Los Angeles

MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) — A vote could take place Tuesday on the future of a parcel of oceanfront property along the sandy shores of Manhattan Beach which was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

A pedestrian walks past a marker that gives the history of Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach on April 9, 2021. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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 serveed Black Americans.

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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 Los Angeles County.

Bruce’s Beach is now home to the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Training Headquarters. But a decades-long push to return the property to the Bruce family came to a head earlier this month, when Supervisor Janice Hahn announced unveiled a plan to do just that.

Acting on a motion by Hahn, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors could take two votes Tuesday: one to direct the county’s chief executive officer to come up with a plan to return the property to the family, and another to sponsor Senate Bill 796, legislation required to make the transfer possible.

Old contracts make the entire process trickier. When L.A. County acquired the property from the state, it came with restrictions on how ownership can and cannot be transferred.

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There’s currently a bill in the California State Senate to remove the restrictions and allow the Bruce family to reclaim ownership of the land.

“Hopefully all of us here can begin to right a wrong that happened 100 years ago,” Hahn said.

During Hahn’s announcement, a family spokesperson said he hoped returning the land would help repair the damage his family has suffered.

“We want restoration of our land, restitution for the loss of enterprise and punitive damages,” Duane Shepherd, the family historian, said.

If the plan is approved, the county will have 60 days to create a timeline for the land transfer and determine whether or not the lifeguard station will have to move. And while many details remain, county leaders see this as a chance to right a century-old wrong.

“I feel like the only thing we can do is to return it,” Hahn said.

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