Land Use and Coastal Public Access

Overview

Surfrider Foundation v. Martin’s Beach 1, LLC

CPM represented Surfrider Foundation in a lawsuit over the elimination of public access at Martin’s Beach, located in San Mateo County just south of Half Moon Bay, California. The beach had been used by the public as a picnic, fishing, surfring, and recreation location for a century until a new owner purchased the land adjacent to the beach for $32 million in 2008. By 2010, the gate was locked and local residents were being refused access by private security.

CPM filed suit under the Coastal Act, arguing that the owner’s unilateral elimination of beach access was a violation of state law. Surfrider prevailed at trial, obtaining an injunction requiring public beach access to remain at Martin’s Beach just as it had for a century, until closure of the beach is approved under the Coastal Act. The injunction was upheld on appeal, and both the California and U.S. Supreme Court denied the owner’s petitions for certiorari.

TRUST v. Martha, Co.

CPM was retained by a non-profit in Marin to pursue an appeal of an implied dedication of public trails in Tiburon, California. The trails, which had been used by the community for hiking and other activities for over fifty years, and which provide breathtaking views of San Francisco, its bridges, and Angel Island, were unceremoniously closed to the public in 2017. Despite providing evidence at trial of public use of the trails to show an implied dedication, the trial judge ruled against TRUST. The appeal is pending.

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