Gazillionaire Vinod Khosla just can't catch a break.
We've covered this ongoing saga before, but let's catch you up:
In 2008, the Sun Microsystems co-founder bought Martins Beach and the surrounding land for a whopping $32.5 million. The beach is located near Half Moon Bay and is surrounded by a gated community of weathered old beach cabins, the occupants of which have still been allowed to use the beach. The public, however, has not.
Khosla claims, among many other legal maneuvering, that the beach was subject to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and therefore didn't need to adhere to the 1976 California Coastal Act that gives everyone rights to access the entire state's shore. It's been drama like this, folks, that's been going on for nine years.
Last year, Khosla said he'd open the beach if the state paid him $30 million, claiming that opening the beach would be a "taking" of property without compensation. Keep in mind, the beach had been open to the public since 1918 via a path and public easement that goes through the property he now owns.
Anyway, the Chronicle reports now that a three-judge panel at the state appeals court announced yesterday that Khosla better open up that beach right now. "One of the basic goals of the state for the coastal zone is to maximize public access to and along the coast and maximize public recreational opportunities in the coastal zone. Maximizing access is the goal," said the judges in their 50-page ruling.
According to KQED, the order states that Khosla's not-so-private gate "must be unlocked and open to the same extent that it was unlocked and open at the time defendants purchased the property."
"The courts said exactly what the Legislature said: The public has the right to access the coast. It's their ocean. It's their coast. It is not some private billionaire's," said Surfrider Foundation attorney Joseph Cotchett, who's been battling Kholsa on behalf of the organization. Both the Surfrider Foundation and a group called Friends of Martins Beach have filed lawsuits trying to get public access to the beach restored.
"He's attacking the California Coastal Act, is what he's doing. Everyone knows this is not the end of the line. ... This is the little guy versus the big guy," said Cotchett.
Khosla, meanwhile, plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Cotchett will give Kholsa until today to open up the gate. Then he's calling the San Mateo County Sheriff and busting that road wide open.
American hero and beach cabin renter Greta Waterman has some brilliant opinions on the beach access argument, saying "They (Khosla's team) are making a mountain out of a molehill. If they open it, they have to have facilities, put up a friggin' porta-potty, hire a lifeguard so nobody gets drowned - and don't knock on my door to go to the bathroom."