An appellate court has reaffirmed the ruling that Martin’s Beach must be open to the public. The opinion was given Wednesday in a case originally brought in 2013 by the Surfrider Foundation against two limited liability corporations managed on behalf of property owner and tech investor Vinod Khosla.
The 50-page opinion of the First Appellate District in the California Court of Appeals rules that Khosla’s closure of the beach constituted development under the Coastal Act. It made a further series of determinations that together present a sweeping denial of property rights assertions Khosla’s attorneys have made in the years-long battle over access to the picturesque beach south of Half Moon Bay.
Martin’s Beach has been ground zero for beach access activists, surfers and those on the Coastside with fond memories of walking or driving the path from Highway 1 to the relatively small and protected beach. Khosla bought the property from a Coastside family in 2008. A year later, the new owner closed the gate and painted over a billboard that once advertised access to the beach.
While Wednesday’s action was a victory for public access fans, it is not the end of the road. Other legal challenges remain and Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett says he believes the appellant defendants plan to take the case further.
“They are going to the Supreme Court on the issue of taking,” he said on Thursday. “On the sole constitutional issue that the California Coastal Act is unconstitutional on the grounds that taking is unconstitutional.”