State Sen. Hill Introduces Bill to Reopen Public Access to Martin's Beach

A gate was put up along the road in 2010 and there are signs deterring beachgoers from going through the property to get to the shore.

By Bay City New Service

 Legislation introduced this week would help restore public access to a popular surfing beach near Half Moon Bay that has been blocked off by the property owner since 2010.

 State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced a bill Monday that would reopen the road to Martin's Beach, located just off state Highway 1 a few miles south of Half Moon Bay.

 A gate was put up along the road in 2010 and there are signs deterring beachgoers from going through the property to get to the shore.

 Surfers and other protesters have gone past the gate to get to the beach and in 2012 a group of five surfers was arrested for trespassing the property.   The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office dropped charges in that case.

 Two lawsuits have been filed against the landowner, Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, who purchased the property in 2008 for $37.5 million, according to Hill's office. Both suits have attempted to regain public access to the waves.

 Last October, a San Mateo County superior court judge ruled in one of the suits filed by an attorney on behalf of the group "Friends of Martin's Beach" that the property belonged to Khosla and leaves its usage up to him. That decision effectively makes the only way to access the secluded shoreline by water and the ruling is being appealed.

 A separate lawsuit filed last March by the Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation is scheduled to go to court in May. In that case, the Surfrider Foundation is arguing that Khosla failed to obtain a proper permit for the gate and restrictive signs and is violating the California Coastal Act.

 Hill has proposed requiring the State Lands Commission to enter into negotiations with the property owner to make a portion of the property a public access road.

 If Khosla cannot negotiate a deal within a year, a portion of the property would be acquired by the commission through eminent domain and a public road would be created, according to Hill's proposed legislation.

 If the bill passes and is signed by the governor, it would go into effect as soon as January 2015. Following enactment, there is a one-year time period until January 2016 allotted for negotiations before the road could be opened to the public, Hill's spokeswoman Leslie Guevarra said.

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Janie February 11, 2014 at 09:27 PM
Sooooo, if they get them to open the road where will they park? There is no parking. This is not the beach it was 30 years ago, the beach has eroded away and there is barely a road wide enough for an emergency vehicle if needed down by the beach. As a home owner, leasing the property my house sets on, I would not be happy to come home and find someone parked in front of my home and I couldn't park my car. There are no useable public facilities. If they want to park up top and walk down to surf, more power to them. The beach should be enjoyed, BUT the new owner, should not be obligated to indulge the dreams (memories) of those that no longer own homes "cabins" etc there. The previous owners opened it to the public as a means of income. Obviously the new owner does not need that income, but he also doesn't need/shouldn't have to pay for the expense of wear and tear on the roads, expense of collecting parking "fares", maintaining public facilities or the expense of cleaning up the trash left by guests.
Albert Robinson February 11, 2014 at 09:46 PM
This is a Public Beach, and access should not be blocked by Money, which can buy any decision it wants. State law says all beaches are public Domain. Take over the Road and let the County maintain it. Where is the Coastal Commission, on another Holiday.
Janie February 11, 2014 at 09:53 PM
I don't think the problem is the road, it's where to put cars that want to drive down it.
Brian Ginna February 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM
"This is a Public Beach" - correct "and access should not be blocked by Money, which can buy any decision it wants" - incorrect. Access is not blocked - you can get there by boat "State law says all beaches are public Domain" State law does not say that private property MUST be purchase or seized for such access. Only in limited cases where "public access" has happened for a number of years. In this case, there was no "public access" but access to private land by paying a fee. Far different. How about this Albert? Where do you live? I want to camp on your property. No? Ok, I will get the government to seize part of it so I can. Happy now?
Jonathan Bremer February 12, 2014 at 01:23 PM
We have two foundational documents that protect access to beaches, the California Constitution (1879) and the California Coastal Act (1972). California has a long and active history of beach access protection and there is extensive community support, both private and public. The issue of Martin's Beach does not revolve around surfing, just because surfers benefit from beach access does not diminish the importance of upholding our Constitutional rights. The new legislation requires Vinod Khosla to be held to the law, just like the rest of us. Khosla and his team have failed to apply for permits, failed to follow court orders, and failed to follow law. The legislation does nothing but give Khosla and his team one year to comply with these laws and work through the permitting process with San Mateo county and the Coastal Commission. Since he was forcibly exposed as the owner earlier this year, Khosla has remained silent on this issue. Although ironically, I suspect he pays his team members to prowl articles, such as this one, to post comments using secrecy and subterfuge to forward his agenda. As I was there only yesterday and personally escorted news crews down to the beach, I can guarantee Martin's remains beautiful and garbage-free, awaiting a visit from you and your family. Don't worry, the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney are refusing to prosecute illegitimate trespassing charges!
Senor Gigante February 12, 2014 at 02:32 PM
This is private property. Nobody should have access across anybody's private land. Jerry Hill is a pimp for votes for trying to use 'eminent domain' and govt. confiscation of this man's land.
Brian Ginna February 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM
All this does is ensure that the access issue is tied up for another 4,5, 10 years? The "surfer's" lawsuit is nothing compared to what will come in the courts. Funny how little "surfers" know about prescriptive rights. There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING, in either document which spells out how prescriptive rights will work in this situation. Please go ahead and play Jr. Lawyer and tell us otherwise.
Jonathan Bremer February 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM
To my limited "Jr. Lawyer" knowledge, not one court case has made a prescriptive rights argument for access to martins beach. Redenbacher & Brown have made a Constitutional argument. Article X, Section 4 of the California State Constitution states: No individual, partnership, or corporation, claiming or possessing the frontage of tidal lands of a harbor, bay, inlet, estuary, or other navigable water in this State, shall be permitted to exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose, nor to destroy or obstruct free navigation of such water; and the Legislature shall enact such laws as will give the most liberal construction to this provision so that access to the navigable water of this State shall always be attainable for the people thereof. San Mateo county is making a permitting argument. Coastal Commission is making a ca coastal act argument. Surfrider foundation is also making a permitting argument. There seems to be a bandwagon of Tea Partiers continuing to ironically and predictably support the privileged few rather than the disadvantaged many. Anyone rich enough to buy large coast side lots with the intent to develop surely understands the legal implications.
Alison Madden February 13, 2014 at 04:16 PM
Hey Senator Hill where were you when we wanted public access to Pete's Harbor, which should never have been stolen from the public trust by questionable legislation? Since you're a magician just wonderin' if you can a marina reappear? Thanks, Alison 650.270.0066 alisonmadden@yahoo.com
George Chrisman February 13, 2014 at 07:36 PM
Who carries the liability insurance for trespassers on private property? The beach is accessible from the navigable waterway (ocean). How can you let people cross private property? Can I just jump over anyone's fence in Redwood Shores, Foster City, or Montara because I like their waterfront location? I want to fish or sunbathe, or launch from their site adjacent to my new or old favorite place? Why not Tiburon, Belvedere, or Pebble Beach?
Jonathan Bremer February 13, 2014 at 09:16 PM
I see that reading comprehension is not your forte and by the way, Redwood Shores, Foster City, Tiburon, Belvedere, Pebble Beach and Montara all have public access "to the" navigable waterway, as protected by our constitution. It frustrates me that knowledge, reason and good will are so easily ignored, I know it might be difficult people, but try to get some.
Bob Stine February 15, 2014 at 09:36 AM
George Chrisman: You don't have to jump anyone's fence in Foster City to get to the water. Foster City considerately created many paths to the water. Before mega-money took control, there was an accessible path to Martin's Beach, as well.


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