Surfrider takes venture capitalist to task for beach access
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 May, 2014 - The amphibious war over the closure of a popular surfing beach by a billionaire landowner rolled into a San Mateo County courtroom Thursday, where the plaintiffs believe California laws guaranteeing coastal access are in jeopardy.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach is listening to arguments by the Surfrider Foundation accusing Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of violating the California Coastal Act by blocking access to Martins Beach, a sandy 53-acre haven along the coastal cliffs, about 6 miles south of Half Moon Bay.
Joe Cotchett, the lawyer for Surfrider, is demanding that Khosla explain his purchase of the beach and subsequent decision to block the only access road during the trial, which began at 9:30 a.m. in Redwood City.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2013, accused the landowner, then identified only as Martin's Beach LLC, of painting over billboards, erecting locked gates in front of Martin's Beach Road and hiring armed guards to keep people out - all without permits from the California Coastal Commission required when coastal usage is changed.
The money man behind the deal was later revealed to be Khosla, the 58-year-old co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Khosla is famous for his backing of bold, eco-friendly projects and is a darling of democratic politicians. His limited liability company paid $37.5 million in 2008 for the property, which includes 45 leased cabins along the coastal cliffs.