Beach Access Case Nowhere Near Done
October 3, 2014
On Sept. 30, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 968, legislation aimed at securing a public access easement or right-of-way at Martins Beach in San Mateo County. Located south of Half Moon Bay, Martins Beach is an isolated stretch of coastline bookended by steep cliffs that make it inaccessible from land, except via the aptly named Martins Beach Road. This private road, and the beach to which it leads, have been at the center of a fierce battle over private property rights and public beach access for the last several years.
Historically, owners of Martins Beach had permitted public access to the shoreline via Martins Beach Road, albeit at times intermittently and/or subject to a fee. In 2008, Martins Beach was acquired by Martins Beach 1 LLC and Martins Beach 2 LLC, formed by venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems Vinod Khosla. Conflict ensued in 2010 when the property manager for the new owners locked the private gate on Martins Beach Road, permanently blocking access to Martins Beach.