Three appeals court judges in San Francisco just ordered Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla to unlock the damn gate at Martins Beach. Last week, the judges ruled in favor of Surfrider Foundation’s five-year-long fight against the absurdly rich prick who wants the beach all to himself.
But just because Surfrider won the ruling doesn’t mean Khosla will let the public visit the rocky beach 7 miles south of Half Moon Bay. Khosla has demonstrated a preference for using his wealth to strain the resources of the public and let the proceedings drag on.
It seems more likely Khosla will ask the state supreme court to put the appeals court’s ruling on hold. At that point, he would probably appeal last Wednesday’s ruling to the state supreme court, and, if he’s feeling characteristically dyspeptic, he’ll waste the time of the Supreme Court of the United States and all of the surfing public.
The 62-year-old bought the 89-acre property in 2008 for $32.5 million. Then, for no good reason and in apparent opposition to the California Coastal Act, he locked a gate on the only road accessing the remote beach. A year ago, while in a generous mood, Khosla offered to open the road for the reasonable price of $30 million. (No one bit on that offer.)
Four years ago Surfrider sued Khosla to open the gate. In 2014, a trial court judge ruled that — surprise! — locking the gate violated the public’s right to beach access and ordered Khosla to open it. Wednesday’s order was the final ruling in the appeal of that loss.
Because the billionaire is a very sore loser, last fall he sued the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission in federal court. Whatever happens in Surfrider’s state lawsuit, those federal lawsuits could delay the opening of Martins Beach for god knows how long.
“This is not simply a win for surfers in San Mateo County,” said Surfrider Foundation’s Legal Director, Angela Howe, in a press release. “This is a win for all of the beach going public that wish to enjoy California’s beautiful 1100 mile coastline.”
John Claussen, of Surfrider Foundation’s San Mateo County Chapter, added that, “We are pleased that the court continues to stand with the public and to protect the Coastal Acts’ basic premise: the coast belongs to all Californians.”