Martins Beach bill advances — legislation would help state seize blocked road

AT THE BEACH — State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, shakes hands with a supporter after speaking about a bill to restore access to Martins Beach in this Feb. 10, 2014, AP file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The state Assembly yesterday passed a bill that could help resolve the battle over public access to Martins Beach, just south of Half Moon Bay, which was closed when a billionaire bought property along the beach.

The bill, authored by State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and co-authored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, would allow the state to seize the road to the beach that billionaire Vinod Khosla closed in 2009. The bill would create a new account for the State Lands Commission so that it could accept outside donations to pay for the road, which would be seized through eminent domain. Khosla has said he wants $30 million in exchange for public access to the beach.

The previous owners kept the gate open most of the time during the day. They had a welcome billboard, built a parking lot and sometimes charged a parking fee. The beach was popular with surfers, families and anglers.

Berman’s onboard

“Martins Beach was a beloved place for local residents and visitors alike for over a century until public access to the beach was denied,” Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, whose district includes the beach, said in a release. “I’m proud to support SB 42, which aids efforts by the state to acquire a right-of-way or easement so that constituents in the 24th Assembly District, where the beach is located, and all Californians may enjoy Martins Beach once again.”

Khosla, a venture capitalist and co-founder of SunMicrosystems, locked the gate to the beach in 2009 after he bought the coastside property for $35.2 million.

Court battle

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled Aug. 10 that Khosla violated state law when he blocked the road. But the case may not be over. There is speculation that Khosla will take the case to the state Supreme Court.

“It’s high time for that gate to be opened with a sign reading, ‘Public Welcome,’” said Hill.

In the meantime, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has said it won’t ticket people who climb over the gate to go to the beach.

Hill’s bill passed the Assembly 54-20 yesterday, passing the two-thirds threshold required for the legislation.

The bill will go to the Senate for a final vote before landing on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.