A state appeals court ruled Thursday that a billionaire landowner had no right to block public access to a San Mateo County beach without first obtaining a permit, rejecting arguments that a forced opening would be tantamount to stealing his property.
The 50-page decision by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco affirmed a 2014 ruling by a San Mateo judge who ordered Vinod Khosla to give the public access to picturesque Martins Beach, near Half Moon Bay, which Khosla owns.
It was the latest slap-down of Khosla in a long, increasingly heated legal dispute with the Surfrider Foundation, which sued the co-founder of Sun Microsystems after he shut the access gate leading to nearly 90 acres of his coastal property in 2010.
The nonprofit group founded by surfers charged that the closure amounted to development, requiring a permit from the California Coastal Commission. A judge agreed, prompting Khosla’s appeal.