Judge says landowner wrongly denied public access to Martin's Beach

September 24, 2014
Los Angeles Times

A San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that a private property owner failed to obtain the proper permit to put up a fence blocking public access to a beloved and historic beach south of Half Moon Bay.

Judge Barbara Mallach, in a tentative ruling, did not impose any fines against property owner Vinod Khosla, whose property for years provided access to Martin’s Beach.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for all of the people of California. Everyone can again visit Martin’s Beach,” said Joe Cotchett, an attorney for Surfrider Foundation, which filed the lawsuit.

The defendants said in a statement: “We are disappointed with the Court's decision and will consider our options for appealing the ruling.”

At issue was whether a private property owner could be compelled to provide public beach access just because his predecessor did and whether the California Coastal Commission is within constitutional bounds when it negotiates for such access in exchange for coastal development permits.

For decades, Martin's Beach was visited by thousands of locals who picnicked, surfed and fished in its protective cove.

The former owners granted beachgoers their only way to the beach by land, via a dirt road, and charged a small fee for parking. But two years after venture capitalist Vinod Khosla acquired the parcels in 2008, his manager locked the gate, painted over a sign that had beckoned from California 1 and posted security guards to ward off trespassers... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)