Posted on January 4, 2023

Family to Sell Bruce’s Beach Property Back to L.A. County for Nearly $20 Million

Rebecca Ellis, Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2022

Six months ago, Los Angeles County leaders signed off on an unprecedented transaction: They would return two parcels of beachfront property in Manhattan Beach to the Bruce family, the first example of the government giving back land to a Black family after acknowledging it had been stolen.

On Tuesday, the county announced a surprise twist in the historic deal: The family would sell the Bruce’s Beach property back to the county for nearly $20 million.

In the early 1900s, Willa and Charles Bruce were pushed out of a bustling resort they had built, beloved by the area’s Black community. {snip}

In an effort to “right the wrongs of the past,” the board made the momentous decision in June to return the Manhattan Beach land to the descendants of the Bruces, a move celebrated nationally by reparation advocates.

As part of the agreement, Bruce family members had a two-year window in which they could require the county to buy back the property from them. They have decided to do just that.

Attorney George Fatheree, who represents the family, said in an interview the sale was not unexpected and the family had always wanted to have the option to sell the property back to the county. He emphasized the sale was still a victory for the Bruce descendants, who would no longer have the land their grandparents were robbed of but instead the money they should have inherited.


Fatheree said multiple factors contributed to the family’s decision. For one, he said, none of the descendants live in Southern California, and they were in stages of their life where they wanted money to invest.

He also said the land was not zoned for development, and the family members were wary of the years-long permitting fight they would need to wage if they wanted to start building.


County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn, who helped initiate the transfer, similarly characterized the sale not as an abrupt change, but as an example of reparations at work.

“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 in a statement. “This is what reparations look like and it is a model that I hope governments across the country will follow.”