Manhattan Beach, CA – Today, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is urging Governor Newsom to sign SB 796, after today’s unanimous vote to pass the legislation in the State Senate. The legislation, championed by Supervisor Hahn and authored by State Senator Steven Bradford, is essential to Hahn’s effort to return Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce.
“I am determined to return Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family, but I can’t do it without this legislation,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “I am grateful to Senator Bradford for stepping up and shepherding this bill through the state legislature. I have been so moved by the overwhelming support that we have gotten for this effort in Sacramento. At long last, this bill is heading to Governor Newsom’s desk. I not only urge him to sign it, but I also think it would mean so much if he signed it at Bruce’s Beach.”
In 1912, a Black couple named Willa and Charles Bruce purchased beachfront property in Manhattan Beach and built a resort that became known as Bruce’s Beach. It was one of the few places where Black residents could go to enjoy a day at the beach because so many other local beaches did not permit Black beachgoers. The Bruces and their customers were harassed and threatened by white neighbors including the KKK. Eventually, the Manhattan Beach City Council moved to seize the Bruce’s property as well as surrounding property using eminent domain in 1924, purportedly to build a park. The City of Manhattan Beach took possession of the property in 1929 and it remained vacant for decades.
The section of the seized property closest to the beach, including the lots owned by Willa and Charles Bruce, was years later transferred to the State and in 1995 transferred to Los Angeles County. However, when the land was transferred to the County, the State put restrictions on the land, preventing the County from transferring the property.
In April 2021, Supervisor Hahn announced her intention to return the land to the Bruce family, but the State restrictions prevent the transfer. She asked Senator Steve Bradford to introduce legislation, SB 796, to remove these state restrictions on this land and allow Los Angeles County to return the property to the Bruce family.
Today, the California State Senate voted unanimously to pass SB 796 after it passed unanimously though the State Assembly yesterday. The legislation now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk for his consideration and signature.