Martins Beach: Judge rejects Khosla's attempt to change her ruling

December 5, 2014
San Jose Mercury News

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach issued her final ruling Friday in the legal battle over public access at Martins Beach, rejecting venture capitalist Vinod Khosla's latest argument that he shouldn't have to open the gate on a private road leading to the coast.

Khosla's attorneys fought to change Mallach's tentative judgment from September, in which the judge ruled the Silicon Valley mogul had violated the California Coastal Act by permanently locking the gate off Highway 1 south of Half Moon Bay. They claimed her order to restore public access to the coast should not entail reopening the gate to vehicle traffic.

Mallach brushed aside that reasoning in her final judgment, which amounted to a brief but forceful restatement of her earlier ruling.

"That gate across Martins Beach Road must be unlocked and open to the same extent that it was unlocked and open at the time defendants purchased the property" in 2008, Mallach wrote.

Khosla ignored Mallach's tentative ruling while he challenged it and has yet to reopen the gate, attorneys for the Surfrider Foundation said Friday. Surfrider sued Khosla after he barred public access in 2010. The previous owners of the property allowed paid vehicle access to the secluded, cliff-lined beach.

"I assume that Mr. Khosla will abide by the court's order," said Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett. "And if he does not, we will seek legal sanctions."

If Khosla does not immediately open the gate, Surfrider could ask Mallach to find him in contempt of court. If the clean-energy investor appeals Mallach's ruling, however, he could ask the state appellate court to stay her order.

Khosla's attorneys did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

On Nov. 18, Khosla's legal team objected to Mallach's ruling and proposed an alternative one in which they would allow people to walk down to the beach but keep the gate locked. They argued that opening the gate would improperly require Khosla to operate a business on his private property... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)