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Martins Beach update

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Martin's Beach battle may end up in court

By Julia Scott


Posted: 11/03/2011 03:10:05 PM PDT

Updated: 11/03/2011 10:09:40 PM PDT



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Martin's Beach, south of Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2011. The beach was... (JOHN GREEN)«12»

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla linked to closed beachHALF MOON BAY -- The battle over public access at Half Moon Bay's Martin's Beach, a beloved surf mecca and popular Bay Area family picnic spot, could be headed to court.


Replying to a letter from the Surfrider Foundation, an attorney for Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said he would be willing to open the beach under certain circumstances but that he does not believe the Coastal Commission has the right to dictate public access to a privately held road and would defend that position in court, according to Michael Wallace, a spokesman for the foundation's San Mateo County chapter. Khosla closed off private beach access when he purchased the 89-acre parcel in 2008.


The letter also appears to tacitly confirm Khosla's ownership, first revealed by this paper in August. Khosla has gone to great lengths to hide the fact that he owns Martin's Beach and intends to develop it.


"It seems even more abundantly clear he's the owner in the wake of our correspondence," said Wallace, who described the letter to this newspaper. "Now we're trying to open up discussions to other solutions, rather than see it end up in court."


Locals have grown increasingly irate after being shut out of the beach they've visited for years with their families. A security gate prevents those who don't live in a beach home from driving down a dirt road to the water. Last year, someone painted a huge mural on the billboard that used to advertise Martin's



Beach. "No one shall exclude access to the coast," it proclaimed, quoting the California Coastal Act.


The legal issue of beach access is a tricky one. Martin's Beach has been open to the public for at least 90 years -- old-timers have memories of catching smelt there in the 1920s. Some even held their weddings on Martin's Beach and brought their children and grandchildren there to play.


The sole access road is private, but the state owns the beach up to the high tide line. Previous owners would charge beachgoers for access. But when San Mateo County officials ordered Khosla to do the same, he sued the county. A judge dismissed the suit in 2009.


If this dispute goes to court, it could be five years or more before the padlock comes off Martin's Beach, if it ever does. In which case everybody loses, said Wallace.


"We're pushing them to consider a greater cause in terms of donating their land back to the public. It was our idea that he could make something very positive out of a very negative situation," he said.


An Occupy Martin's Beach may not be out of the question. A ******** group called Friends of Martin's Beach has 260 members. "We represent the 99 percent who own the right of use while the big,



View Martin's Beach in a larger mapfancy-pants LLC repo'ed our trail, man," posted one member, half-jokingly.


Joan Gallo, Khosla's San Jose attorney, did not return a request for comment.


Until the legal question is resolved, the beach will be closed.


In a strongly worded letter to Gallo on Sept. 19, a Coastal Commission staffer laid out a number of arguments for why closure of existing beach access constitutes an alleged violation of the Coastal Act. The letter, signed by Enforcement Analyst Jo Ginsberg, alludes to a potential cease-and-desist order or fines of up to $15,000 per day if the property owner does not comply.


Gallo will meet with Coastal Commission staff this month, said Ginsberg.




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Uncle Gaspar own a small part of it in the 30's and 40's. I called his son Fred and they said that they sold their interest in it in the mid 1960's. I seen some of the stripers that was tooken from there(very nice). My dad even caught a 35lbr from there back in the forties and he didn't considered himself a fisherman. I didn't believe him though after watching him get a five lbr; starry flounder from the warf at Prinston harbor.

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