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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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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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