The Surfrider Foundation Wins Beach Access Lawsuit Against Vinod Khosla

Nobody Owns the Beach: Join the Nonprofit and Stand Up for Our Oceans, Waves and Beaches

September 24, 2014
Market Wired

Today, the Surfrider Foundation (, scored a huge victory in its protracted legal battle against billionaire and venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla, to restore beach access at Martin's Beach in San Mateo, California. In a decision made by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Mallach, Khosla will be required to seek a permit from the California Coastal Commission for the gates, signage and other access-blocking development at Martin's Beach and begin a public process to consider the changes to the property and beach access. The Surfrider Foundation is represented by Joe Cotchett and Eric Buescher of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, and attorney Mark Massara, in this litigation. (Court order documents, here.)

"Today's court decision upholding the Coastal Act is an important victory for Martin's Beach and ultimately strengthens the publics right to beach access in California," says Angela Howe, Esq., Legal Director for the Surfrider Foundation. "The Surfrider Foundation remains vigilant to protect beach access rights, not only in this case, but also in other cases where the beach is wrongfully cut off from the public."

Although Khosla is believed to appeal, Joe Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, whose firm represents the victorious Surfrider Foundation says, "Today's decision is a huge victory for all of the people of California. It affirms that great wealth cannot be used to circumvent and ignore the law. Everyone can again visit Martin's Beach."

The Surfrider Foundation, the largest non-profit grassroots activist organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans, waves and beaches, has worked diligently to open Martin's Beach since 2010. Vinod Khosla violated the California Coastal Act when, without authorization, he closed the only public access road to Martin's Beach and posted signage to deter visitors.

The first legal battle started in October 2012 when five surfers crossed the private property to surf the waves at Martin's Beach and were arrested. Although the case against the surfers, the "Martin's 5", was dropped, citing "insufficient evidence." The Inertia, Surfing's Definitive Online Community, and the Surfrider Foundation teamed up to create a short film exploring its implications -- not only on the beach access issues at Martin's Beach, but also across America. Watch the documentary, "Martin's 5: Battle for the Beach."

Shortly after the Martin's 5 case was dismissed, in March 2013, the Surfrider Foundation filed this Coastal Act suit against Khosla.

For more information on the campaign, including a timeline, please visit

Today is a celebration, but similar access issues are bubbling to the surface in Chicago, Texas, and New York, and these legal battles will continue to have a meaningful impact on how citizens access them.

It may be true that nobody owns the beach, but how we get there is another story... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)