For decades Martins Beach was a popular, secluded beach for surfers. Unfortunately, in 2008, 89 acres surrounding the beach were purchased by tech billionaire Vinod Khola. He promptly put up gates blocking the single road that provided public access to the shoreline. Surfers would still attempt to access the shoreline, but would often receive a ticket for trespassing.
The move by Khola resulted in a campaign by the Surfrider Foundation to return public access to the beach and a tit-for-tat battle between the billionaire and the state.
In one case, the State Lands Commission offered to buy the road at an appraised value of $360,000. The billionaire countered that he would only sell the 6.4 acres making up the road for $30 million. You can read a timeline of the beach fight here.
That ongoing battle has nearly come to an end. In August, Kholsa was ordered to open the gates. A three-judge Court of Appeals panel determined that closing access to the beach was a “form of development.” If the entrepreneur refused to open the gates he’d face a fine of $11,250 per day.
According to CBS, the California Coastal Commission is still negotiating with Kholsa on when and how often the gate will be open.
This week Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have allowed the state to purchase the road through the use of eminent domain. In his veto of Senate Bill 42 Brown wrote:
Unfortunately, as drafted the bill doe not meet the author’s intent. This bill precludes the use of eminent domain in this instance and limits the state’s options.
Public acces to our tate beaches and park is a core value to this state and must be protected. Here however, the public’s right to access Martin Beach will be determined in further judicial and administrative proceedings.
Want to find the best beaches near San Francisco? Check out our guide: 12 Beautiful Beaches Within a 3-Hour Drive of San Francisco
Take a bite out of San Francisco with Insiders Club.
[Featured Image from Open Martins Beach Facebook page]