A billionaire tests the strength of public access laws

In California, a dispute over a public beach could head to the Supreme Court.

 

This article was  on The Guardian and is republished here with permission.

A  billionaire who was ordered by California courts to restore public access to a popular surfing beach is seeking to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case could entirely upend public access to beaches in a state with more than 1,000 miles of shoreline.

Vinod Khosla, the influential technology investor and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has been battling California regulators and environmental advocates for years over access to , a picturesque cove about 30 miles south of San Francisco that can only be reached by a private road across Khosla’s property.

Khosla has consistently lost his legal fight, thanks to California state law that regulates access to the coastline — and prioritizes public access to beaches. In August 2017, a  ordered him to restore access by unlocking the gate to the road, an order with which he has only intermittently complied.

A ruling against Vinod Khosla over Martin’s Beach will throw private property rights into “disarray,” Khosla’s lawyers say.

In a petition to the Supreme Court filed on Thursday, Khosla’s attorneys argued that the state law regulating California’s coastline is “Orwellian,” and that the state court’s interpretation of the law in Khosla’s case “crosses a constitutional line.”

The ruling against Khosla “will throw private property rights in California into disarray,” the petition states. “After all, petitioner is hardly the only private property owner along the vast  coast, or the only one who would prefer to exclude the public from its private property.”

Mark Massara, an attorney who has represented the Surfrider Foundation in litigation seeking to keep Martin’s Beach open, called the appeal “a Hail Mary pass for a financial windfall” based on “preposterous” legal arguments.

Nevertheless, he warned that if Khosla were to win, there could be a “financial free-for-all.”

“The only way they can find for Vinod is to throw out the entire California coastal program,” Massara said. “It’s hard to fathom what would happen to California’s beaches and all beach access in the United States.”

Access to Martin’s Beach has been disputed since soon after Khosla purchased 53 acres of land adjacent to the shore. The previous owners had maintained public access to the beach for nearly a century, charging visitors for parking and offering limited amenities.

Khosla began blocking access by locking the gate to the private road in 2010, touching off the protracted legal battle. The California coastal commission, a quasi-judicial body that must approve any new development on the coastline, has argued that landowners seeking to change the public’s degree of access to a beach must seek a permit. Khosla has rejected this argument and refused to apply for a permit to close the road.

Vinod Khosla is uninterested in allowing people to use his property to access Martin's Beach.

“It’s the equivalent of saying that you know the IRS is not going to treat you fairly so you’re not going to file a tax return,” said Massara. “He won’t spend $200 on a permit application, but he’ll pay $10 million to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Neither Khosla nor his attorney responded to a request for comment. Khosla, whose  is estimated at $2.4 billion, attributed the decision to close the gate to his property manager when he was forced to testify on the matter in 2014. At the time, he also claimed ignorance of the lawsuits filed on his behalf, : “I probably get 500 to 1,000 pages of documents like this a week. I cannot review them all. I’m not trying to be unreasonable, just telling you what my life is like.”

The difference between the life of a billionaire and that of an average citizen is certainly on display in the Martin’s Beach case. State law allows the coastal commission to issue fines of up to $11,250 per day for blocking public access to a beach. In September, the  that his violations of the California Coastal Act could rack up fines of more than $20 million.

“In this case, it’s fair to say that the civil fines and penalty structure is not sufficiently motivating for a guy of [Khosla’s] means,” said Massara. “Eleven thousand dollars a day – I tend to think he just doesn’t care.”

This story is published with The Guardian as part of their two-year series, , examining the threats facing America’s public lands, with support from the .

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a...
  • will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.
  • Must see for sng/extd fam or corp retreat in pines! $1,030,000
  • The American Forest Foundation seeks a smart and highly motivated candidate to join our Western conservation team. The Regional Manager supports the Regional Director to...
  • Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • 5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.


В интеренете нашел важный блог , он рассказывает про Espresso review.