Billionaire owner of Martin’s Beach willing to fight Coastal Commission in court

Posted by on Sat, November 5, 2011

Vinod Khosla, the venture capitalist who owns Martin’s Beach, say he’s willing to take the Coastal Commission to court over public access to Martin’s Beach, reports Julia Scott in the Mercury News.

Replying to a letter from the Surfrider Foundation, an attorney for Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said he would be willing to open the beach under certain circumstances but that he does not believe the Coastal Commission has the right to dictate public access to a privately held road and would defend that position in court, according to Michael Wallace, a spokesman for the foundation’s San Mateo County chapter. Khosla closed off private beach access when he purchased the 89-acre parcel in 2008. […]

The legal issue of beach access is a tricky one. Martin’s Beach has been open to the public for at least 90 years – old-timers have memories of catching smelt there in the 1920s. Some even held their weddings on Martin’s Beach and brought their children and grandchildren there to play. […]

In a strongly worded letter to Gallo on Sept. 19, a Coastal Commission staffer laid out a number of arguments for why closure of existing beach access constitutes an alleged violation of the Coastal Act. The letter, signed by Enforcement Analyst Jo Ginsberg, alludes to a potential cease-and-desist order or fines of up to $15,000 per day if the property owner does not comply.

Gallo will meet with Coastal Commission staff this month, said Ginsberg.

Comment 1
Sun, November 6, 2011 5:42pm
Carl May
All my comments

Some good issues for those willing to duke it out with Khosla: prescriptive rights (was control of the private road and required parking fee for all those years maintained by the property owner and sufficient and continuous enough to negate the rights for the commonly used route), the right of property owners not to be landlocked out of their property (in this case, the public being kept away from publicly owned tidelands below mean high tide level), etc. The experience of anyone going to Martin’s Beach repeatedly over the years could be relevant. The state attorney general’s office usually has someone who specializes, at least some of the time, in prescriptive rights.

Comment 2
Tue, November 22, 2011 12:07pm
Dave Furtado
All my comments

Sounds like a great place for “Occupy HMB” to occupy since the owner is a selfish .01%!