Bruce Beach ownership is drawing closer to the family whose ancestors founded the Black Seaside resort.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, December 22, voted for the state to accept an amended land deed for the property that was once a Bruce Beach Lodge, so that it could legally transfer the property to the Bruce family.
Senate Bill 796 made the ensuing switch-off possible, effective shortly after it was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in September. This gave the State Department of Parks and Recreation time until December 31 to amend the property deed and remove restrictions already imposed on Bruce Beach.
The amended deed allows the county to transfer, sell, or build upon the land. When the state granted land to the county in 1995, those moves were restricted, allowing only public recreation and beach access.
While the move may sound bureaucratic, supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement that it is an important part of the plan.
“LA County has owned this land for the past few decades, but the state had restricted our ability to move it,” Hahn said. “By removing those restrictions from this amended deed, we can finally move forward with returning this property to the Bruce family; we are one step closer to making history.”
Meanwhile, according to Hahn’s office, the county is still evaluating the value of the land, and will begin verification of heirs who have come forward after December 31. That assessment will take 30 days, Hahn’s employees said.
Once the heirs are confirmed, the county can hold official talks with the Bruce family, said Liz Odendahl, Hahn’s spokeswoman; After that, it shouldn’t take long for the Bruce descendants to sign the deed by the county.
Bruce Beach Lodge—two parcels of about 7,000 square feet at 2600 The Strand in Manhattan Beach—was a 20th-century seaside resort for African Americans at a time when black people had limited access to the coast.
Villa and Charles Bruce, who was black, bought two parcels in 1912 for $1,225 and turned the land into an affluent resort.
But in 1929, city leaders successfully used eminent domain to annex the land for racially motivated reasons. The owners of the lodge received $14,500 for the parcel, which is now worth millions of dollars.
Now that the board of supervisors has accepted the deed, the county can give the land to Bruce’s descendants.