LA to Pay $20M For Land Seized From Black Family

A southern California beachfront property that was taken from a Black couple through eminent domain a century ago and returned to their heirs last year will be sold back to Los Angeles County for $20M. The land had been transferred to the State of California and then to LA County.

LA to Pay $20M For Land Seized From Black Family
Image credit: nytimes

Facts

  • A southern California beachfront property that was taken from a Black couple through eminent domain a century ago and returned to their heirs last year will be sold back to Los Angeles County for $20M. The land had been transferred to the State of California and then to LA County.
  • The land within the city of Manhattan Beach was bought in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who built a small resort for African Americans. The Bruce's faced racist harassment from white neighbors, and in the 1920s, the Manhattan Beach City Council condemned the property and seized it citing eminent domain.
  • In June, the county returned the land to the descendants of the Bruces and agreed to keep leasing it from them for $413K per year to continue operating a county lifeguard training center located on the beach.
  • State Sen. Steven Bradford, who wrote the state legislation that allowed the land’s return, said he supported the family's decision to sell the land to the county. He said current zoning rules would prevent them from developing it in a financially beneficial manner.

Sources: NBC, ABC, BBC News, and Associated Press.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by BBC News. The Bruce family would be very wealthy had their land not been stolen from them in the 1920s. Selling the land will allow them to rebuild the generational wealth denied a century ago. This is what reparations look like, and other governments across the US should follow suit.
  • Narrative B, as provided by NAARC. While this case may seem like a success story of reparations, large-scale restitution for Black Americans is a bad idea. Most proposals for reparations plans exclude large swaths of those impacted by slavery and racism in the US and include racist requirements for who would benefit from the programs.