Some family members and activists said they were disappointed by Tuesday’s announcement that the descendants of a black couple whose Los Angeles beach club was confiscated by the city in the 1920s — and then returned to their heirs in 2022 Now the district intends to sell the land back.

Patricia Bruce, a relative of original club owners Charles and Villa Bruce, who said she was not involved in the decision to sell the ground, expressed her dismay.

‘I don’t think Charles would have sold it,’ she told The Washington Post.

Charles and Villa’s direct descendants have decided to sell the 3-acre property back to Los Angeles for $20 million after the land is returned to them in 2022.

Aerial view of Bruce Beach at golden hour. Some have questioned whether the $20 million sale price is a lowball offer from Los Angeles County.

Activist Kevan Ward said she was disappointed that the Bruce family opted to sell the land back to Los Angeles, adding that she would prefer they try to somehow resurrect the original beach club.

Activist Kevan Ward said she was disappointed that the Bruce family opted to sell the land back to Los Angeles, adding that she would prefer they try to somehow resurrect the original beach club.

Earlier this week, Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, announced that the Bruce family has decided to sell the land back to LA.

‘This fight has always been about what’s best for the Bruce family, and what they feel is best for them, selling this property back to the county for about $20 million and finally returning that generational is rebuilding the property which they were deprived of for almost a century,’ he said.

In a related statement released by the family’s attorney, the Bruce family acknowledged that some people may be disappointed by their decision.

‘We know that some imagined that we might hold this piece of land and try to reestablish [our] Former family enterprise.

‘But we have instead chosen to look to the future,’ he said.

The political battle to return Bruce’s Beach to its rightful owners lasted nearly two years and required input from California state legislators.

Kavan Ward, a community organizer, and former Manhattan Beach resident, founded the group Justice for Bruce Beach.

He told me post that when proper approval was received to facilitate the transfer of the land back to Bruce, ‘it was almost as if the stars had aligned.’

She said she found nothing in the family’s decision to sell the land and it would not be her first choice.

‘I’m disappointed,’ she said. ‘I would love to see Charles and Villa Bruce’s vision implemented in some way, some way.’

Family member Patricia Bruce-Carter (R) said she too would like to see the family hang onto the property for a little longer, saying that's what the original owners would have done

Family member Patricia Bruce-Carter (R) said she too would like to see the family hang onto the property for a little longer, saying that’s what the original owners would have done

Anthony Bruce (right) with L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chairman Janice Hahn (left) who announced Tuesday that the family plans to sell the property back to the county

Anthony Bruce (right) with L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chairman Janice Hahn (left) who announced Tuesday that the family plans to sell the property back to the county

Willa and Charles Bruce came to the property in 1912 in the early 20th century after moving from New Mexico with their son Harvey.

Willa and Charles Bruce came to the property in 1912 in the early 20th century after moving from New Mexico with their son Harvey.

The plot of land, currently used as a training center for lifeguards, is specifically zoned for public or semi-public use.

Had the Bruce family wanted to develop the land commercially, they would have needed to weave their way through a complex web of rezonings that would have involved navigating years of permits and bureaucracy.

“We have no interest in being real estate developers, landlords or taxpayers in the City of Manhattan Beach,” the family said through its attorney.

Bruce Beach is made up of two lots of land with valuable beach views in Manhattan Beach, an upscale Los Angeles community that is less than 1 percent black to this day.

It was first purchased by Bruce between 1912 and 1920 and was the site where he later built a beach resort for members of the black community, who were barred from using most white beach clubs at the time .

The resort was a success, but was one of several owned by black landlords that were confiscated by Manhattan Beach officials in the 1920s after white residents complained about their presence.

Following the racial unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the subsequent ruling of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Manhattan Beach City Council assembled a task force that ultimately recommended the county return the land to the Bruce family.

In 2022, the land was leased back to descendants of the Bruce family, with an option to sell the land back to the county for its market value.

Prior to its resale, the land was owned by brothers Marcus and Derrick Bruce, as well as Derrick’s sons, Anthony and Michael.

In July of 2022, the Bruce family gathers to celebrate the passing of the deed of land back to the descendants of its rightful owners

In July of 2022, the Bruce family gathers to celebrate the passing of the deed of land back to the descendants of its rightful owners

A Bruce Beach plaque stands on the property that used to be owned by Charles and Villa Bruce before it was confiscated by the government

A Bruce Beach plaque stands on the property that used to be owned by Charles and Villa Bruce before it was confiscated by the government

Derrick (left) and Anthony (right) discuss their ancestors' belief in the importance of reclaiming Bruce's beach

Derrick (left) and Anthony (right) discuss their ancestors’ belief in the importance of reclaiming Bruce’s beach

At the time the deal took place, Anthony – who currently lives in Florida with his wife, Sandra Bruce – said the initial confiscation of the land had “destroyed” his great-great-grandparents financially.

‘It destroyed his chance at the American Dream. I wish they could see what happened today.’

The July ceremony marked the first time a government entity returned land that had been wrongfully confiscated from a family of African Americans.

During a speech given that day, Anthony said,It’s surreal, and it’s almost like being transported to the other side of the known universe.’

‘I want to be balanced about the whole thing. I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of what Charles and Villa’s dream was. The only dream was of an America where they could flourish and their American business could flourish.

Without God, we would not be here today. And lastly, thank you all. God bless,’ he concluded.

Major Dates of the War for Bruce Beach

1912 – Willa and Charles Bruce, who moved from New Mexico to California, buy a piece of oceanfront land in Manhattan Beach. He bought the first of two lots along the Strand between 26th and 27th Streets for $1,225. They open a resort.

1924 – The Manhattan Beach City Council orders Bruce to sell through eminent domain. They say that they need to build a park. Bruce challenges this in court, but loses. The city paid them $14,500 – a fraction of the $70,000 value of the land at the time – and they gave up their beach and lost their business.

1931 Charles Bruce passed away at the age of 69.

1934 Will Bruce passed away at the age of 71.

1950s The area had been vacant for decades, but the city council was beginning to realize that questions could be asked until the park for which the land was acquired was built. They form City Park, later renamed Beachfront, then Bayview Terrace Park. In 1974, it was renamed after a sister city in Mexico, Parque Culiacan.

2006 – Amid growing interest in the area’s history, the city council voted 3-2 to rename the beach after the Bruce family – largely due to appeals from Councilman Mitch Ward, the city’s first black elected official.

2017 – Kevon Ward goes to the area and listens to Bruce Beach’s story. She starts a campaign to return it to the original owners.

2018 – A Bruce family reunion is held at the beach, which is attended by about 150 people.

2021 – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 796, a bill to return Manhattan Beach land to the descendants of its original owners.

June 28, 2022 – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to formally return the land to the Bruce family

January 3, 2023 – It has been announced that Bruce’s heirs will sell the land back to Los Angeles County for approximately $20 million.

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