Who really owns the beach? We know people can own land around a beach but the beach itself? Did you know that the state Constitution guarantees public access to all beaches below the high tide line?
Well, in the latest chapter of a decade-long fight, California officials sued billionaire landowner Vinod Khosla on Monday in a bid to regain public access to Martins Beach, a scenic stretch of sand near Half Moon Bay.
Filed by the state Attorney General’s office on behalf of the California State Lands Commission and Coastal Commission, the lawsuit seeks a court order demanding that the tech mogul remove all gates and signs on the only road leading to the crescent-shaped beach, one that runs directly through his adjacent property.
The lawsuit contends that without court orders, Khosla will keep imposing improper restrictions to public access to the popular beach, located about 35 miles south of San Francisco.
“This case goes to the heart of California’s public access mandate,” California Coastal Commission Chairman Steve Padilla said in a statement. “We cannot allow this to be chipped away each time someone purchases beachfront property — it’s a dangerous precedent for the future of public access in California.”
Khosla’s attorney vowed to fight the latest challenge.
“Since the property was purchased by our client, the state, and small activist groups, have endeavored to seize our client’s private property without compensation,” Dori Yob Kilmer said in a statement. “While such tactics are commonplace in communist systems, they have never been tolerated in the American system where the U.S. Constitution precludes the government from simply taking private property and giving it to the public.”
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