The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday that the Bruce family had decided to sell back Bruce's Beach to L.A. County for nearly $20 million.
The announcement comes six months after the board unanimously voted to return the beachside property to the Bruces, a Black family that had been pushed out of Manhattan Beach nearly a century ago. The Ku Klux Klan, along with other white residents of the area, had plotted to drive the family from the beach community and city officials later condemned their property in 1924 through eminent domain. The family's resort was demolished.
In an effort to "right the wrongs of the past," the board made the historic decision to return the land to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce, widely considered to be the first time the government had given back property to a Black family after acknowledging it had been stolen.
The transfer agreement contained a two-year-window in which the family could require the county to buy the land back for the value of the property — roughly $20 million.
A county team that worked alongside an attorney for the Bruce family conducted an economic analysis to determine the value of the property. The county maintains a lifeguard training facility on the property. Since the property was transferred last summer, the county had been leasing it from the Bruces for $413,000 a year.
Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement Tuesday that the family decided to sell within that two-year-period.
Attorney George Fatheree, who represents the family in the transfer, said in an interview with host Tavis Smiley on KBLA-AM radio that the sale was not unexpected and represented a "positive development" for the family.
"My clients were essentially robbed of their birthright. They should have grown up part of a hospitality dynasty rivaling the Marriotts and the Hiltons," he said. "The return of the property and the ability to sell the property and take the funds and invest it in a way that is important to their lives represents an important opportunity for my clients to have a piece of that."
Hahn's statement said the family believed the sale to be the best path forward.
"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," Hahn said. "This is what reparations look like and it is a model that I hope governments across the country will follow."