The decision by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla to finally allow the public to use the only road leading to picturesque Martins Beach was touted as a victory for surfers and sunbathers, but lawyers say it probably isn’t the end of a decade-long battle over the sandy cove.
“I think this man is so embarrassed by his conduct that somebody must have said to him, ‘open the gate and let the courts figure it out down the line,’ ” said Joseph Cotchett, the lead attorney for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which sued Khosla in 2013, arguing that the shoreline had been open to all comers since at least 1918 and belonged to the public.
Cotchett filed papers Monday urging the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco to enforce its ruling in August saying Khosla had no right to block public access without first obtaining a permit. Failure to unlock the gate would mean daily fines.
Cotchett claims the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and his lawyers are attacking the California Coastal Act, the law established by the state Legislature in 1976 to protect public access to the shoreline.
“It’s a big victory for all the people, because it’s not just about Martins Beach,” he said. “The whole state is watching this — all the beach communities up and down the coast.”