Junaid Raza Syed (Senior Editor/Department Manager FS)
Beaches are known to be a place where people simply love to come and visit. Whether to take a swim, a walk, a run, watch the sunset, basically anything relaxing and fun. But what if a certain billionaire buys the nearest beach to you and prevents you from having access to it even if it was public even before he bought it?
This is the current situation of Martins Beach. In 2010, Indian-American billionaire Vinod Khosla became involved with a legal disputed regarding the beach located in Half Moon Bay, California. Khosla attempted to close the beach from the public by putting gates that are protected by armed guards as well as some signs that it is a private property. This dispute has gotten so far that it has reached the Supreme Court.
Khosla bought the Martins Beach back in 2008
Martins Beach Case on the Supreme Court
Based on the California Coastal Act, anyone has the right to access the beach, then again, that seems to be impossible for the case of Martins Beach. This is all because of Silicon Valley Billionaire Vinod Khosla, who wants the Martins Beach all for himself, but the people surrounding the area wish to get access to the beach just like they used to.
According to the state of California, he needs to get the state’s permission to gate the area but Khosla is too far from giving up and is willing to take everything he’s got, which is why this issue has now reached the Supreme Court. Khosla is seeking help from the Supreme Court so he could completely gain the rights to keep the public out of the beach.
This issue then will definitely question the constitutionality of the Coastal Act. The official legal representation of the Surfrider Foundation, Joe Cotchett, said that this bold and arrogant move of Khosla is something that could be considered as a “strike at the core of our society.”
Khosla is known for having billions of dollars in his bank account, and he is definitely not afraid to use it to get the lawyer that he is confident to make him win the case by winning the votes of nine top justices in the Supreme Court. Paul Clement, who was actually the United States Solicitor General while former president George W. Bush was still in office, will be the one who will lead Khosla’s legal team.
Billionaire Vinod Khosla seeks help from the Supreme Court
Clement has already written a 151-paged petition that was given to the Supreme Court to review and take the case. Legal experts said that because of Clement since he takes the reigns on the case by having a well-crafted argument, the Supreme Court may actually pursue this case by deciding within the next three months.
The Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center, Richard Frank, said that the arguments of Khosla are indeed ambitious, but having the right lawyer to carefully draft the case, it could easily catch the attention of the justices in the Supreme Court, especially with the quality of the representation of the issue involved.
A view from the Martins Beach in California
Kohsla VS State of California
It was back in 2008 when the Silicon Valley Billionaire bought the property for more than $30 million. Since then he had received and also ignored tons of lawsuits against him forbidding people to get access to the beach to do any activities such as fishing, surfing, swimming and more.
His excuse is that he gets hundreds of them every day and it is basically impossible for him to review them all. Legal experts have laid out the differences of a billionaire like Khosla compared to the citizens of California. Just like how the law of the state actually indicates that blocking public access to the beach could lead to a fine if $11,250 a day.
In fact, the California Coastal Act has already been violated which then led to Khosla having to fine more than $20 million already. Then again, experts pointed out Khosla simply does not care for the $11,250 fine every single day, because he currently has a net worth of $2.4 billion.
People used to fish, surf, and swim in Martins Beach, but now no one is allowed to get access to it
Khosla is actually one of the founders of the Sun Microsystems as well as some other ventures. This dispute regarding the Martins Beach that has been on for quite some time now, has been mentioned in the Martti Vallila book entitled “Bannana in the Legal Gulag; Exposing Trickery and Manipulation.”