Silicon Valley billionaire loses legal battle with surfers after he blocked access to popular beach near his $37milllion home
A Silicon Valley billionaire who blocked access to a popular beach next to his $37million home has lost a legal battle against a group of surfers, forcing him to re-open it to the public.
Vinod Khosla, 59, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems who is worth around $1.5billion, bought the luxury property and adjoining road that leads to Martin's Beach in San Mateo County, California, in 2008.
The previous owner had allowed visitors to get onto the stretch of sand for $5, but the father-of-three decided against it.
He locked the gate at the entrance to the access road and even hired guards to keep people away.
But yesterday a judge ruled that blocking the road was illegal and he required a permit from the Coastal Commission.
The Surfrider Foundation started legal proceedings against the businessman a year ago, arguing that Mr Khosla should be forced to pay the maximum fine of $15,000 a day - which would amount to around $20million.
They have been campaigning on behalf of at least 100 people who have been arrested for 'trespassing' on the beach, according to court documents.
The technology mogul's attorneys argued that the Coastal Commission was a 'runaway' body and his Fifth Amendment property rights.
Mr Khosla, who owns the road but not the beach itself, claimed he simply wanted to establish that he cannot be forced to allow people on his property.
Judge Barbara Mallach of the San Mateo County Superior Court ruled against him, stating that closing the gate to the road was illegal.
She said that Mr Khosla, who owns the land via limited liability corporations, should stop preventing the public from accessing and using the water, beach and coast at Martin's Beach until a resolution of his permit application has been reached by San Mateo County or the Coastal Commission.
'Today's decision is a huge victory for all of the people of California,' Joe Cotchett, the attorney representing Surfrider told NBC.
'It affirms that great wealth cannot be used to circumvent and ignore the law. Everyone can again visit Martin's Beach.'
Khosla and his attorney released a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing disappointment in the court ruling. They added that they will consider their options for an appeal - meaning litigation could still go on for years... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)