Since 2010, surfers and beachcombers who regularly spent time at Martin’s Beach, a picturesque little cove about 25 miles south of San Francisco, have been locked out of the place. Billionaire tech mogul Vinod Khosla bought a parcel of property that fronts Martin’s in 2008 for nearly $40 million, then two years later, closed the only public access point, a small road that leads to the beach. The family who owned the property prior to Khosla had allowed the public to use that road—for a small fee. Khosla did too at first, before deciding to shut people out by closing the road and hiring security guards.
It’s been a hot-button public access battle for the last four years, with the Surfrider Foundation backing efforts by local activists to force Khosla to re-open the gate. Surfrider took Khosla to court in 2013, and just last week, the case finally came to an end after a California Superior Court judge ruled that Khosla hadn’t secured the necessary development permits to shut the gate. Therefore, there’ll be no more keeping people out. Public 1 – Khosla 0.
And, on Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill that will direct the state to negotiate with Khosla to buy the access road altogether. If Khosla balks, or just asks for too much money, the state will use eminent domain and claim the land. Public 2 – Khosla 0.
Game, set, match.