On December 1, San Mateo County Court Judge Barbara Mallach issued a final order requiring Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to immediately restore public access to Martin’s Beach.
Khosla purchased a 53-acre parcel adjacent to Martins Beach for $US37.5 million in 2008.
The Surfrider Foundation first filed suit against Khosla’s Martins Beach LLC in March 2013.
According to the ruling Mallach passed down in September, Khosla was in violation of the California Coastal Act when he neglected to obtain a permit before posting signage and locking a public access gate that led down to the beach.
Still, the battle for Martins Beach is far from over.
This week his lawyers filed a motion to request a stay, or delaying of enforcement, of Mallach’s ruling that Khosla restore public access to be the way it was under the Deeney family, the property’s previous owners.
According to documents filed with the motion, beach visitors have resisted property manager Jim Deeney’s efforts to enforce a $US10 fee at the gate to the beach.
“I continue to open the gate at Martins Beach to allow paid, permissive access, on the historical terms that were enforced for decades before my family sold the property to the current owner. When weather permits and when someone is available to collect the fee, the gate on the property is open for vehicular access only, upon payment of a $US 10 fee. On days when the gate is open, despite my efforts to operate the business as it was historically operated, cars repeatedly drive past me and refuse to pay the $US10 fee,” Deeney wrote in the motion. “On days when the gate is open, pedestrians often walk right past me and refuse to leave after I advise them that no walk-ins are allowed and that they need to get their vehicle and pay the $US10 fee, or leave.”
Deeney adds that he has had threats made against him both in person and on social media.
He alleges that he has seen visitors “yell obscenities” and “make lewd gestures” when he tries to charge them $US10 at the gate. He also claims to have seen members of the Surfrider Foundation walk down without paying the fee.
“My family never permitted free walk-ins to access the beach during their ownership, which spanned over 100 years,” he said.
Deeney cites one particularly disturbing incident from December.
“I stepped out of my truck to collect the $US10 fee and the man was immediately confrontational, saying I could not charge him a fee to go to the beach because ‘the Judge f—-ng said,'” Deeney writes in the motion. “He pulled up next to the with the passenger side window rolled down, pointed his right hand at me as if he were holding a gun, and yelled ‘I’m going to come back and shoot your a–.'”
“I was afraid for my life and immediately closed the gate so the man could not come back and contacted the Sheriff.”
Surfrider condemned the behaviour, but said it isn’t a reason the public should be blocked from the beach.
“Surfrider does not condone or approve of such conduct. The online threats attached to the pleadings were made by two individuals, neither of whom are members of Surfrider,” Eric Buescher, an attorney representing Surfrider with the firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, said to Business Insider. “The ownership should not use the inappropriate actions of a very small minority as a crutch to justify its illegal conduct in preventing the public from accessing and using Martins Beach.”
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