A New Law Could Force Billionaire Vinod Khosla To Sell His Land If He Doesn't Open Access To The Beach

The losses keep piling up for Vinod Khosla, prominent Silicon Valley VC and cofounder of Sun Microsystems.

Last week, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach ruled that Khosla must seek a permit from the California Coastal Commission before locking the gates that lead down to Martin’s Beach, a small surfer’s haven in the Bay Area.

Khosla blocked public access to the beach after purchasing a 53-acre parcel there in 2008. He reportedly paid $US37.5 million for the property.

Surfrider Foundation, an environmental organisation with strong ties to Martin’s Beach, filed suit against Khosla in March 2013.

Martin's beachEric Risberg / AP ImagesLocals protest in favour of SB 968 in February.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Khosla’s lawyers have been considering an appeal to the case that would preserve the billionaire’s property rights.

But now, a new bill signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown Tuesday requires the State Lands Commission to negotiate the purchase of a public right-of-way access through his private property and down onto the beach.

If the commission cannot reach an agreement with Khosla by January 1, 2016, it can use eminent domain to force a sale of Khosla’s property.

The bill, SB 968, was introduced by State Senator Jerry Hill in February. It was approved by the State Senate in August and had been awaiting approval by Brown.

Hill told the Mercury News that the signing of the law is an “affirmation of the public’s right to their beaches and the idea that no one is above the law and no one can buy a beach.”

Beach access is a hot topic in California, and Martin’s Beach is a particularly beloved spot.

“It really shows the popularity of the issue, that the local Senator thought it was important enough to his constituents to push this bill through the Senate,” Chad Nelsen, Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, said to Business Insider in September.

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