Judge orders Martin’s Beach to open

December 6, 2014
San Mateo Daily Journal

A San Mateo County judge issued a final ruling Friday ordering public access for Martin’s Beach, the Half Moon Bay property that has been subject to a litany of lawsuits and legal wrangling after the owner shut a gate leading to it.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach finalized the tentative ruling she made in September that compelled Vinod Khosla, the billionaire owner of the property, to reopen it to the public unless the California Coastal Commission permits otherwise. Mallach’s September ruling sided with the environmental activist group Surfrider Foundation, which sued for access and contended closing the beach to the public altered the land’s use and violated the California Coastal Act by not garnering mandated permits. Joe Cotchett and Eric Buescher from Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, on behalf of Surfrider Foundation, had said locking the gate and hiring security guards was a violation of the act.

“It has been a long struggle, but the public access has been preserved thanks to our judicial system,” Cotchett said in a prepared statement on Mallach’s ruling.

Khosla bought Martin’s Beach, previously open to the public for more than 100 years, in 2008 for $32.5 million then closed the only access road to the public less than two years later.

Attorneys for Surfrider were pleased at the outcome of the bench trial that began May 8 and ended in July, but remained on guard as they anticipated Khosla will appeal Mallach’s decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Khosla’s attorney Jeffrey Essner argued in court his client was unfairly scrutinized because of his wealth and said forcing him to reopen Martin’s Beach violated his private property rights. Essner also contended Khosla maintained similar access to that of the previous owners who would close the beach at their leisure during inclement weather... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)