California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a landmark invoice on Thursday that can permit Los Angeles County to return beachfront land seized from two former Black house owners within the Twenties to their descendants. 

The new regulation is taken into account a win for reparations advocates. 

“As governor of California, let me do what apparently Manhattan Beach is unwilling to do, and I want to apologize to the Bruce family for the injustice that was done to them a century ago,” the governor said on the land in Manhattan Beach, according to The Associated Press. “I say that as a proud Californian, but additionally conscious that we at all times have not had a proud previous.”

Newsom said the move could be “catalytic,” allowing land to be returned to others who lost it through racism. 

Willa and Charles Bruce’s great-great-grandson and other descendants joined Newsom at the signing. 

“There are different households ready for this very day, to have their land returned to them,” cousin Patricia Bruce told the AP.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who led a government push to transfer the land, said the heirs would almost certainly be millionaires now if the property had not been taken.


“The regulation was used to steal this property 100 years in the past, and the regulation at the moment will give it again,” Hahn said.

Willa and Charles Bruce bought the two parcels of land in Los Angeles County’s Manhattan Beach in 1912 and ran a resort that catered to Black people. 

The Bruces and other Black families faced harassment from racist White neighbors and in 1924 the city condemned the Black-owned lots and seized them through eminent domain, claiming the need for a public park – now Bruce’s Beach Park – but it was left vacant for years. 

The couple sued for racial discrimination and eventually received $14,500 but never got their land back, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

In 1948, Manhattan Beach gave the Bruces’ land to the state and in 1995, the state gave it to Los Angeles County, which was not legally allowed to give it back to the Bruces. The new law changes that. 

The proposal was unanimously approved by state lawmakers earlier this month. 

The effort to return the land started last summer during the anti-racism protest movement and after a petition demanding reparations at the beach circulated, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. 

The bill “represents financial and historic justice,” state Sen. Steven Bradford told the Daily News earlier this month, “and is a mannequin of what reparations can actually appear to be.” 

The county, in the meantime, has outlined steps wanted to maneuver ahead with the switch, together with assessing the worth of the parcels and looking for a way to minimize the tax burden on the heirs.

The county additionally must vet the authorized heirs of the Bruces and presumably discover a new website for the lifeguard coaching headquarters. One possibility would have the heirs lease the land again to the county for continued use.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.