Billionaire Vinod Khosla Can’t Block Surfers From Martin’s Beach, Judge Rules

September 25, 2014
Wall Street Journal

In a showdown of California archetypes, a Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that venture capitalist billionaire Vinod Khosla couldn’t block access to a Bay Area beach that is popular with surfers.

Khosla, one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, bought property adjacent to Martin’s Beach for $32.5 million in 2008. He attempted to close access to the beach, which lies south of San Francisco, by locking a gate on his land and occasionally hiring security guards to turn people away. The previous owners of Khosla’s land didn’t deter access to the beach. The Surfrider Foundation, represented by the law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, sued Khosla in 2013.

On Wednesday, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach ruled that Khosla must re-open access to the beach. In order to close it, Khosla would need a permit from the state, she said.

Joe Cotchett, the attorney representing the surfers, said he was surprised by the decision and expects appeals to reach the state Supreme Court in a test of public access and property rights.

Khosla’s attorney, Dori Yob, said in a prepared statement, “We are disappointed with the court’s decision, and will consider our options for appealing the ruling.”... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)