Gavin Newsom signs law giving beachfront property government seized from black family to descendants
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed into law plans to give prime beachfront property back to the descendants of a black family whose land was seized in 1924.
Senate Bill 796, which passed unanimously before Newsom signed it into law on location in the upscale Los Angeles suburb of Manhattan Beach, allows Los Angeles County to begin the process of transferring the public property back into private hands after it was confiscated from the Bruce family "because of hatred and racism," the governor said.
"This can be catalytic," Newsom said at the press conference. "What we're doing here today can be done and replicated anywhere else."
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Willa and Charles Bruce were black entrepreneurs who bought the land along the south shore of the Santa Monica Bay in 1912, the bill says. Though they were harassed by white neighbors and the Ku Klux Klan, the Bruces built a resort that catered to black people at a time when they weren’t allowed at most beaches. In 1924, the city seized the land under eminent domain to build a public park. The city also passed legislation disallowing the building of more resorts, thus preventing the Bruces from maintaining their business.
It never built the park, and the empty land was transferred to the state of California in 1948 and then to Los Angeles County in 1995. It currently holds a lifeguard training station.
The county will initiate the transfer after it assesses the value of the land and vets the descendants to prove rightful ownership. The land may be worth around $75 million.
“Willa and Charles Bruce were deprived of their rightful property, as well as their right to derive the benefits of that property, including the freedom and fortune of operating their own business on their land,” the bill states.
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The bill’s proponents see it as a step toward reparations.
“This bill sets the tone for the future of reparations in California," said state Sen. Steven Bradford, one of the bill’s authors. "If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt.”
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Tags: News, California, Gavin Newsom, Property Rights
Original Author: Virginia Aabram
Original Location: Gavin Newsom signs law giving beachfront property government seized from black family to descendants