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Billionaire Khosla Is Asking the Supreme Court to Keep People Off His Beach (bloomberg.com)
99 points by rmason 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

"State law says the public owns all coastline on the ocean side of the mean high tide line. Khosla says he shouldn't have to open up his private land without compensation to allow passage to the cove, which is buttressed by cliffs and impossible to reach otherwise except by water. "

Bloomberg misses the whole point, which is that the road was an easement that had long existed before and into Khosla's ownership.

I used to drive that section of the coast all the time. I remember passing the Martin's Beach sign often and thinking it was kind of neat. Then one weekend, I drive by and it's a big black ugly box. I thought "that's strange..." and here we are almost 10 years later. It's really crappy what Khosla's done. That section of the coast is so beautiful, it's a real shame to see it get shut off from public access.

Spent some time on Martins beach in the past and it's beautiful. It's like a hidden little nugget compared to its much more popular big brother Half Moon Bay.

I was by there in early February and had planned to try and visit both, even if I had to jump the fence. But I was running late for a meetup later in the evening in SF and didn't make it.

I respect Khosla but if there was ever reason for risking a ticket for civil disobedience by visiting a public beach this is the place.

I believe the sheriff's department has publicly stated that they will not ticket or arrest anyone caught using the easement to access the beach, even if they have to hop the fence or take similar measures. This situation seems ripe for some persistent civil disobedience.

Except that it's not civil disobedience. It is disrespecting someone who is being civilly disobedient. Disrespect and civil disobedience, one action is not always bad, the other not always good.

The guys literally bourgeoisie taking public land that was public before he purchased it. You don't get to buy a house and then block off your sidewalk because you don't think you should have to allow access to your land without compensation. This is blatant theft from society

It was never public. Not even the state is claiming that it is public. It was always operated as private property accessible to the public for a fee as a business. The state is saying they can tell Khosla to keep running it that way until he gets a permit to change.

Its like someone ran a popular restaurant in town, and sold it, and the historical preservation commission told the new owner they had to keep running it as a restaurant until they got a permit to change the use.

I thought that all CA beaches were public? What made this one different?

EDIT: Ah, It's not really the beach being public that is in dispute. It's the extra "sandy beach" space above the high tide line and the parking lot as you explain here:


Got it.

The press on this case has been horrible at explaining the actual dispute.

  The press on this case has been horrible at explaining the actual dispute
I don't count Bloomberg as "press". The situation has been covered in depth locally for years (e.g. by the Mercury).

The Mercury isn't doing a good job either. See this example from today:


This story does not make it at all clear that the suit isn't so much about a road, but also a parking lot and access to a sandy beach above the high tide mark.

Your analogy still sidesteps the matter of the property owner providing an access to the public beach? Sure, maybe there's some secondary issue related to some of the surrounding features that are part of the property, but ultimately the question is whether the gate to the beach is closed.

Khosla shouldn’t have closed the road to the beach. But that’s not the primary issue. The county and public interest groups didn’t just want an easement to access the water. They wanted someone to operate a public beach there with parking and places for sunbathing, etc. But they don’t want to have to pay for that property. Public trust doctrine doesn’t get them that. So that’s why this coastal development permit rigamarole happened.

  The guys literally bourgeoisie taking public land
Not public land: public access to a de facto right of way.

He is disobeying through means of prolonged legal actions. I hope he gets the sh!t sanctioned out of him in the end. Alternatively, isn't there grounds for a class action suite? Can a class file a suite against an individual?

Not sure I follow your distinction. There's a "no trespassing" sign and a law against trespassing. If I trespass, in violation of that law, how is that not civil disobedience? (Conversely if I'm not breaking the law, then how would lawful use of the easement be disrespectful?) The landowner may also be participating in civil disobedience (refusing to grant access to the beach, in violation of a law which requires it).

The sidewalk in front of a house inside a "parking strip" is on private property (generally), but you can't chain it off with No Trespassing signs... because the sidewalk is on an easement.

Apropos similar situation https://ourmalibubeaches.com/

He knew what he was buying into then. It doesn't change the legality of what he's trying to do - and I don't see any legal basis for his claim. But it certainly makes me less sympathetic to his cause. If I lived nearby I might visit the beach just out of equal parts curiosity and protest.

If the easement predates his ownership of the property, hasn’t he already been “compensated” in the form of a lower price for the property?

Yes, exactly.

The previous owners ran a business allowing people to access the beach. Its not at all clear that he knew what he was buying into.” Put differently, your point is at most a standing argument. Either the previous property owners suffered the taking, or Khosla did. But somebody did.

From the Court of Appeal opinion:

"Prior to appellants' purchase of the Martins Beach property, appellants were told by San Mateo County that '[t]here is existing parking [and] access to the beach at Martins Beach. This access [is] also memorialized [and] required to be preserved (no exceptions) by the Local Coastal Program' and 'the access is there & will have to remain.'"

The government can’t just say you have to keep using your property in a certain way.

Sure it can.

No it can’t. That’s the point of the takings clause, to keep the government from commandeering private property.

Surely you understand what an easement is. Or am I misunderstanding what you are referring to?

If there were actually an easement covering the road and parking lot, this would have been over long ago.

Nice job moving the goalposts there.

Sorry I meant to elaborate the thought. The government can’t just tell you to keep using your property a certain way. So if you get a notice from the government claiming to exercise some power it probably doesn’t have, what exactly do you “know” you’re buying into?

If the county sends you a letter saying that they want you to operate a public park out of your back yard. And then you sell your house to someone who has notice of that letter. What does that mean? That the government gets to order the new owner to operate their back yard as a public park?

When it's an easement, yes. And even with the public park example there is likely case law for that. We have numerous situations where land can be taken or designated for public use even though it is privately owned. If this easement didn't exist before his purchase then he'd be a much more sympathetic chracter,but he bought this land that everyone could use with the intention of blocking everyone else out so he could privately enjoy it.

"Easement" isn't a magic word that let's the government use your property how it wants. (And no, the government can't just force you to run a public park on your property; governments have to buy the land they build parks on).

There is an easement here--it's the right of way that arises allowing the public to cross private property in order to get to the sea shore. If that was what the litigation was about, Khosla would definitely be in the wrong. But the state is going way beyond that--it's forcing him to keep open the parking lot, allow access to the beach above the mean high tide line, etc. That goes way beyond the easement that exists.

And the state admits that. There is no dispute in this case that the parking lot and sandy beach are not part of the easement. That's why the state had to go through a backdoor route: they're saying that he can't change the use of his undisputedly private property without getting a permit to do so.

You make a compelling case that Khosla is in the right here. If that is the case then why do you think he has been failing in court to date?

I don't know the extensive history of the case, but from what I surmise it's because the lower court punted on the Constitutional question. The Supreme Court case law we have says that takings may happen when, e.g. denial of a permit prevents you from doing any development on your land. Here, the state is demanding that he apply for a permit to change the level of "access" at the beach. The lower court had said that the takings question was unripe for review because he hadn't applied for and been denied the permit. Khosla refuses to get a permit, and argues that requiring a property owner to get a permit just to change the use of the property is itself a taking.

If he doesn't get cert based on the current petition, will he have the option of applying for the permit, having it (presumably) be denied, and then trying again?

Yes, the permit denial would precipitate a new opportunity for appeal, and seeking cert from that.

While I'd have some sympathy for mistakes in real estate, the guy's a billionaire. If he can't afford a good agent that would point out that obvious issue then I don't know how anyone else gets anything done in that industry. He should be talking to his agent and not the Supreme Court.

That’s not what the cert petition is about. The government didn’t just force Khosla to allow people to use the easement:

> To be clear, all agree that petitioner owns the property in fee simple absolute. But the Coastal Commission and the County nonetheless declared the power not only to mandate that the property be kept open to the public unless petitioner obtains a permit to close it, but to dictate essential aspects of how petitioner must invite the public onto its private property—including the hours it must allow access, the absurdly low price ($2) it may charge, and even the extent of advertising alerting the public of its ability to access petitioner’s private property for a pittance.

Why should there be any limitation on hours, or any fee for access? It’s a public easement to allow access to public property, and it predates his ownership by decades. And night time visits to the beach are awesome.

He bought an asset, and is now trying to take value from the public to increase his own enjoyment of the asset and the value of that asset. An essentially private beach in California, and enforced by Supreme Court decision would be pretty cool, and insanely valuable.

He should have no control over the access and should be liable for any attempt he makes to hinder or hide access.

I’d totally make regular visits if I lived in the area.

Unless he's just completely making things up, the previous owners had limitations and charged a fee.

And the county regulations do allow him to do that, if he chooses, but he doesn’t want to - he closed the gate and wants to keep it closed.

That isn’t legal, as determined by the trial court, the appeals court, and the CA Supreme Court.

Its not just a trail through the private property to the mean high tide line. Its a whole sandy beach, an access road, restrooms, etc. And it was always demarcated as private property—the previous owners operated it as a business.

That’s why the case isn’t just about an easement. The county wants Khosla to keep operating it as a beach, not just to let people get to the water.

Any documents from the county to that effect?

I didn’t find anything that said the county wouldn’t let him just open the access.

I found lots of references that said people used to have reasonable to access the beach, but he bought the property and locked the gate.

The opinion starts at page 50 of this pdf: https://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publica...

The agency forced him to not only allow access down the road, but keep running the existing parking lot. Nobody disputes the parking lot is private.

No, that's the order of the trial court saying he has to open the gate (and the appeals court affirming that ruling). The court is saying, "There is an established process to administer the law - you can't unilaterally decide to close the gate. Open it back up!"

From that same document and everything else I've seen, he hasn't even applied for the permit to close it. If he applies, and if he's denied, then he can assert that allowing public access is a "taking" of his property rights, rather than just protecting the public's right of access.

But he has to apply for the permit before the commission can decide to allow or forbid it.

Rayiner asserts it is "the agency" that is forcing opening, but it is not (or had not been). The opinion at page 50 of the PDF is in the case "SURFRIDER FOUNDATION v. MARTINS BEACH 1, LLC et al." - It's a concerned citizen group filing suit against one of the two LLCs that purchased parts of the property, and the courts agreeing that Khosla must re-open the gate he locked.

"[Surfrider has] kept it real simple,...It’s always been ‘Mr. Khosla, do you have a permit for that gate or don’t you?’”

In September, after this decision, the commission began an enforcement action, which could cost Khosla over $4 million per year, and Khosla opened the gate, in addition to filing his appeals. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20171004/NEWS/17...

This is an interesting point. But it really just points how silly it is to only make a beach public up to the high tide line. The public doesn't generally know where that line is anyway. Either they are allowed to use the beach or not... doubt anyone coming in by boat will check the high tide line and not stretch their towel out over the sandy beach.

It's also not an absurdly low price considering it only allows access to a public area.

High tide lines aren't a theoretical line but leave an actual physical line of flotsam. He's also free to leave markers for the line and prevent people from going past the high tide line

The physical line of flotsam is not the legal "mean high tide line".

"In most states, all land below the mean high tide line belongs to the state and citizens have the right to unrestricted access to that land. Intuition would indicate that this “line” is where the sand changes from wet to dry during high tide. This, however, is not always the case. The mean high tide line is actually the arithmetic average of high-water heights observed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over an 18.6-year Metonic cycle. It is the line that is formed by the intersection of the tidal plane of the mean high tide with the shore. It is not an easy line to determine, and it is an even harder one to see. From standing on the beach watching the waves, there is no way of knowing exactly where the mean high tide line falls, or where public land begins and ends, making enforcement a difficult and controversial task. "

http://www.beachapedia.org/Beach_Access (From Surfrider, a party to the lawsuits)

If the beach is open to the public, the likelihood that people will respect the markers seems very low. This is a good example of a law that is generally unenforceable unless he hires people to watch.

You could imagine a different rule. But the mean high tide rule traces back to Roman law, and we got it by way of the Magna Carta. Too late to change it now without compensating all those property owners who own the beaches.

There's a lot of court cases about how making something absurdly expensive is the same as not allowing something.

The rules exist because otherwise people act in bad faith


Perhaps because you started a completely unrelated rant about "foreigners"?

metei 9 months ago [flagged]

It is highly relevant to this discussion. Vinod Khosla is an immigrant from India, which I believe skews his views on public property such that he believes it is his right to take said property for his own use with no repurcussions.

We banned this account for taking an HN thread into an immigration flamewar. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future. The rules are at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

> Vinod Khosla is an immigrant from India, which I believe skews his views on public property such that he believes it is his right to take said property for his own use with no repurcussions.

I think the more likely possibility is that he's just rich and his views come from that, rather than the country he's from.

Is your view of whether he should be allowed to do it skewed by what his origin is? (Meaning, do you think American property law applies differently depending on where you were born?)

Edit: there are plenty of born-and-raised Americans who think it's fine to take public property, too. Just look at the "Occupy Bird Sanctuary" people and their kin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Malheur_Nati...) So the whole origin thing seems completely irrelevant to the discussion.

While i do not agree with vinod khosla, what you said is very dangerous. Also, i presume, he already got his citizenship through naturalization so not sure if you can deport him.

There are many foreigners, even rich ones, who don't have those views. It seems like a red herring.

Your comment is xenophobic, and besides, Khosla is a US citizen, not a foreigner.

metei 9 months ago [flagged]

I'm not a fan of rich foreigners buying their way into citizenship, sure. But stealing from the public is illegal, no matter how good your lawyers are.

Khosla is an immigrant who has applied for and been granted citizenship, but generally for less well to do immigrants, we hold them to high standards if they wish to retain citizenship (even though that results in us creating stateless people). Why is Khosla special?

> generally for less well to do immigrants, we hold them to high standards if they wish to retain citizenship (even though that results in us creating stateless people)

[citation needed]

Take a look at what'll cause denaturalization proceedings to take place: https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/Print/PolicyManual-Volume...

Yep, it's basically just lying on your citizenship application and joining a terrorist organization. Not nothing, but also not a terribly "high standard".

That makes sense though. Imagine it cost $1000 to visit the beach, opened only 4a-5a and had no clear signage. That's pretty useless. The requirements should be clear.

You have just provided more info than that entire Bloomberg article. Thank you.

If this is the case, then my sympathies have switched to Khosla.

If there is no dispute about the existence of the easement then this case could be closed immediately and people would have access to the beach.

Do you have a source for this? I hadn't seen the claim that there was any previous easement.

The easement is at the very least implied by law. Consider the case where person A owns property that has no access except by crossing person B's property. There is an easement granting person A the right to cross B's property whether B agrees or not and whether or not it's recorded in the public records, etc. This is similar, although I suspect he'll try to argue alternative access exists or some other nonsense.

As I recall, he has also argued that there was some sort of treaty that pre-dated the California Constitution. None of it makes sense, he's just decided this is a fight he wants to fight.

... and that it's not his beach, unless you are only counting the part above the high tide line (which would be an uncommon definition of the word "beach").

I haven't heard that he's tried to limit beach access from the water's side (as certain Malibu types have tried); the legal battle is over access to the road.

So he wont be annoyed if people constantly accessed from the water? Doesnt sound likely.

He would lack even a veneer of acting lawfully in such a case.

It would be fun if a group got together with boats and had a huge party every week or more at low tide, being right in his conceptual face regularly. Bonus points for immaculate cleanup after every time.

That is what i was thinking pretty much. Maybe that is what needs to happen.

I was referring to the title of the article.

Here are two quotes from Khosla on the notion of "fairness":

> “This is about unfairness, and I don't tolerate unfairness.”

> “I decide what's fair,” he says. “They can do it or not. I don't go back and forth six times.”

Yep. Another babyllionaire who wants it all, just for himself.

I wonder how long until a critical mass of people get fed up with the resource hogging of the ultra rich. Seems likely to happen at some point if current trends in wealth inequality continue.

According to "The Great Leveler" by Walter Scheidel inequality throughout human history has always been going up and only been reset by things like war, violent revolutions or major economic throwbacks. So I'm pessimistic that we can solve the issue in a more pleasant manner.

I have that book in my pile. Skipped it last time I picked up the next one, due to not quite being in the right frame of mind for a depressing read.

> So I'm pessimistic that we can solve the issue in a more pleasant manner.

Oh, I'm quite sure we can't. The peaceful dissolution of the USSR has been a miracle, although that story isn't really over yet. The U.S., at least, will not have a pitchfork moment so anywhere near so quietly.

The question of 'how bad does it have to get' is quite relevant to those of us who have enough money to be planning for retirement, but not enough for his'n'her's yachts - what are the odds that we should maybe start scoping retirement-nations with the best combinations of freedom, opportunity and tolerance for refugees from a place famously losing tolerance for refugees?

"The peaceful dissolution of the USSR has been a miracle, although that story isn't really over yet. "

I would argue that dissolution didn't really level anything. It just gave a few oligarchs an opportunity to grab vast fortunes for cheap.

That's a fair point. I don't think the process is over, which is why that was qualified.

I was talking more about the dissolution of a major nation-state, but mixed that in with book discussion, so I wasn't being clear.

Wow I believe this was exactly Thomas Piketty’s argument back in 2014 with his book.

Also, when a lot of people die, there are a lot of inheritances and open jobs, so makes the task of distribution even easier :/

This is one of the reasons that the Bubonic Plague is cited as a catalyst for the development economically and scientifically of Europe...

Perhaps it's time for progressive real estate taxes.

AKA roll back prop 13 but make it progressive. 1% on the first $250,000 worth of land, 2% on the next $250,000 to $1,000,000 worth and then 3% for anything over $1M.

Not by parcel, total.

You're proposing an additional $2500 a year tax on a $250k home? And a $5000 a year increase on a $500k home? I don't foresee this being very successful.

I'm proposing leaving the nominal Prop 13 discount alone for people that own modest homes. And making d*ckwads like Khosla pay full freight.

Simply individuals and businesses with real estate holdings over a $1M gets the nominal 2-3% property tax rate everyone outside of California enjoys.

Totally fair.

Wouldn’t we just end up paying N rents to N partial owners, each of whom owned $249,999-sized parts of a given estate?

> Not by parcel, total.

In the Bay Area everything is $1m, so lots of regular people out here would see a huge tax hike.

When you own a $1m home, you cease to be “regular.”

One of my observations is that the cost of buying a house for most people has several components, capital costs, financing costs, taxes, and insurance. One assumes that if you increase property taxes that cuts into the amount that can be financed, which reduces the amount that can be financed, which means the price has to come down.

Difference between mortgage interest in a world of global finance and property taxes is property taxes pay for local services, where mortgage interest ends up who knows where. But it isn't paying for your communities roads, transit parks or schools, police and fire.

I imagine the ultra rich have had lots of time to think about it too. Even Sam Altman has written about disaster prepping, testing his readiness, trying to find the optimal mode of transportation for a chaotic metro area, etc. Not to imbue any connotations of evil or notoriety. Just making the point that disaster prepping is kind of well rounded in that regard, due to the inherent unpredictability of disasters.

Both Altman and Thiel purchased estates in New Zealand to prepare for some sort of collapse of society in the United States, like an ordinary person might have a small bottled water supply for a natural disaster.

I suppose then there must be some litmus test of when someone has acted in their own best interest, and been to successful at it. I realize that's a super snarky way to put it, but it sounds like what is at the very Crux of this issue.

I think we can be quite sure that there exists a trend of increasing unequality in US regardless how you decide to measure it. We can also be quite sure that that trend will stop one day (if not before, when one person holds all wealth).

If I were ultra rich, I would be paranoidly obsessive about when, why and how this trend stops, and put significant resources into seeing that the trend stops peacefully. Why? If the trend takes too long, I would be almost surely dropped from the ultra rich category. And if the trend does stop early, but not peacefully, I run into very high risk of losing a lot (up to losing life).

Now, as most ultra rich do not seem to be obsessed about this, I consider this as quite strong evidence that majority of ultra rich share one thing with the majority of us mere mortals - i.e. being dumb as f#ck...

Agreed. I just worry it'd be the wrong people.

Highly doubtful while it's still the case that American Capitalism openly encourages and rewards predatory, sociopathic behavior. The existence of these people is inevitable.

Here's a highly relevant quotation from the above linked article.

> There has been no permit or other final decision requiring Petitioners to charge visitors $2 or any amount for vehicle access, or to advertise any message on its property

So Khosla's claims that he is being forced to charge $2 and operate a business are lies. Obviously he looked in to restricting access by charging an exorbitant fee but found that he could charge no more than $2 and only if he applied for a permit that would likely be denied.

The article is incredibly pandering to Khosla. Does he own the publishers parent company or something?

Bloomberg.com is owned by Bloomberg L.P., the majority of which is owned by Michael Bloomberg who is one of the 10 richest people in America and the former mayor of NYC.

It’s a pretty decent cert petition: https://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publica....

He’s hired one of the leading Supreme Court advocates in the country, and there is some compelling “overstep of regulatory authority” optics to the case. Getting cert on any case is a slim chance, but this seems at least interesting enough to grab someone’s attention.

You've asserted that there are "compelling 'overstep of regulatory authority' [considerations] to the case" but failed to make any points to persuade a reader to that conclusion.

There was an existing regulation upon the property, Khosla purchased it and now is subject to the regulation. Ignorance of the law is no defense, especially when one is as fortunate and well-equipped as Khosla is.

Either the regulation is legal or it is not. Just because you buy the property with notice that the government thinks it has some right to regulate it has no bearing on whether that regulation is legal.

This. Buying your way out of public access easements, is bad law. Really, really bad precedent, to let the commons be bought.

The commons is the part up to the mean high tide line. Maybe a path to get to the high tide line. But the parking lot, etc, that the state is forcing Khosla to keep open certainly isn’t the commons.

From the Court of Appeal opinion:

"In support of a different argument that the trial court's injunction forced them to operate a parking business at a net loss, appellants point to testimony from the manager of Martins Beach that improvements, including a new bathroom, would cost over $500,000, and annual costs would exceed $100,000. However, the injunction does not obligate appellants to provide staff or any amenities. Instead, it requires, 'The gate across Martins Beach Road must be unlocked and open to the same extent that it was unlocked and open at the time [appellants] purchased the property.'"

ggm 9 months ago [flagged]

Do you understand what an easement is? Do you understand the binding quality of an easement on a purchase of freehold or leasehold land?

This is like Khosla digging up the sewage line feeding his neighbours house, because he doesn't like the idea of somebody else's poop flowing under the surface of his land.

He signed the contract which explicitly bound him to the easement, demanding public access through his land, to the beach. How much simpler can it get?

If this part of the contract can be nullified because he doesn't want to smell poor people, then I think the USA is heading to a bigger problem than beach access. Thousands of properties across the states have easements. Nullifying them without consideration of the public interest would be horrific.

Rayiner is a lawyer; I'm quite certain he knows what an easement is. Regardless, the state does not have an easement for the access road or parking lot, and is in talks to buy one. "Beach access" doesn't necessarily mean access by car with free/cheap parking.

Fortunately for everyone, self-righteousness does not magically make property rights go away.

Property rights are highly conditional, and certainly not as absolute as many would wish. Surface rights and subsurface rights exist, water flows have conditions, and so on. I would be surprised if you can set your own price for restitution in eminent domain either. The gap between $360k and $30m stands out in that regard. Doubtless he can afford good legals to argue the price up.

You are of course right regarding the easement issue, and I had misread the writeups assuming they had an easement he was seeking to sunder, not seeking an easement for a seventy year access which it turns out was fee'd and so conditional.

In many jurisdictions, seventy years alone would have knocked this out: as few as ten can secure adverse possession, public right of way in the UK is established by twenty years continuity of access (with defenses such as closing it off one day a year) and Scotland has instances of crofters rights which lay dormant but reawoke unexpectedly.

Maybe you're happy to be reductionist on this being invasion of his property. I've been the beneficiary of public rights to access, and I do value them more highly than simple property rights. This is not some trivium of argument around anyone's home being walked through, it's a property which he bought with a road and facilities already there, and a long period of continuous access he chose to break for his own private benefit.

If he always intended alienation of access or if he just changed his mind, he interfered with communal benefits. That's pretty shitty behaviour legal or not.

I know this is in poor taste, but it's the best thing I could think of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2ZBVk6gpFA

This jackass, again? I refuse to do business, recommend or patronize any such individual whom wastes their life and resources on such petty self-indulgences at the expense of commonwealth capital when they could be doing real good saving lives, species or making a positive dent on the universe, instead of walling themselves off from “the plebs” and making them have absolutely no legacy worth discussing further. Their friends should also distance themselves from such people or that obvious malevolence will rub off on their reputations as well.

Even if there was no preexisting easement, people should be allowed to get from point A to point B. This type of property ownership entitlement happens all the time with hikers and such. It is flat out evil behavior.

Here in the West it's really hard to hike cross country. Big areas are fenced in without any way to get through. In Britain and Germany they usually have a path through but here it's just closed off. Really annoying and doesn't feel like the "land of the free".

What a NIMBY :-(

We should have a BBQ there.

What happens if you cross the no trespassing sign?

Nothing. It has no legal basis.

In Malibu there is a similar situation and I have seen private security guards harass people who walked to the beach. You have to have good nerves and be 100% sure of the legality to ignore them.

Given the general ambiguity of the law, there really needs to be some penalty for those who knowingly push an incorrect interpretation as a spectre to intimidate/deprive others of their rights. Off the top of my head, it seems that it is at least fraud and an inappropriate giving of legal advice. But obviously an explicit statute to curb the practice would be better.

Well, for starters, if they raise their voice or a limb at you, you can have them done for assault. If they actually detain you, it's false imprisonment aka kidnapping.

Except, if it turns out that there is actually not an easement, then the same applies to you. Pretty high stakes for a question that likely can only be decided by all parties doing the research to become fully informed, presenting arguments to a court, and then waiting for deliberation.

Due to the way the legal system works, much of this ambiguity is unavoidable, so the reasonable thing to do is to not escalate the situation physically. But then this creates an incentive for one party to act in bad faith and misinform the others, so that they can benefit in the meantime or even discourage the question from being investigated.

Given how the state of California has ruled, is there any practical obligation for local authorities to prevent people from using the road? Would a federal ruling change that? This reminds me of the marijuana situation where states are making their own decisions without federal support.

Well, if Khosla paid for the land the road is built on, I agree that the state should pay the fair price for the road. Seems straightforward and fair to me. Can someone help me understand why this is not that simple? And then we should have a law that prohibits private ownership of any land that is the sole connector between two public pieces of land. i.e, there should always be a pathway at least enough for 2 cars to pass through that connects 2 pieces of land. This should be verified every time a new land deal is registered. That should prevent such mishaps in future.

> And then we should have a law that prohibits private ownership of any land that is the sole connector between two public pieces of land. i.e, there should always be a pathway at least enough for 2 cars to pass through that connects 2 pieces of land.

What a great idea. Maybe we could call it an https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easement

I like the law that you proposed. I think likely the laws on how beaches are public need to be clarified. Why are they public only up to the high tide line? That seems difficult to enforce. Not very informed on this topic - but why isn't the whole natural sandy part public by default?

Seems like he doesn't want anyone on the beach and it's as simple as that.

I guess "high-tide line" is assumed to be somewhat constant, and therefore a good demarcator. We need a better way to enforce land boundaries in this day and age (especially in the bay area, which is prone to earthquakes and faults). But that's a longer story. Yeah, he clearly doesn't want anyone on the beach. But he does offer to sell it for fair price. Just taking it away from him doesn't seem fair to me either if it wasn't enforced when the purchase happened.

Public access laws like what California and Washington State have require the property owner to allow access to the beach. This means a property owner has to provide a reasonable right of way to access shoreline on their property. Anything less is illegal, up here in Seattle people get hauled to court (or worse if they refuse to allow access repeatedly).

Stealing a beach from the public domain is illegal, and Cali seems to have serious enforcement problems. No property owner has a right to steal public beaches

But then, the state should not have allowed the sale, right? What is the meaning of ownership if the land is not really yours?

> What is the meaning of ownership if the land is not really yours?

You can't own the beach. And you can't de facto own the beach by buying all the land around it and then restricting access. These were both well-understood when Khosla bought the land. He knew exactly how California interpreted land rights in this particular case.

Land purchases regularly come with both private (contractual) and public (statutory) limitations/restrictions on use.

Landowners are not kings, and private properties are not sovereign borders.

> But then, the state should not have allowed the sale, right?

I guess that's one way the state could react to these sorts of lawsuits. That would be unfortunate, because it'd probably end up meaning that one asshole prevented a whole bunch of reasonable people from buying beachfront views with their hard-earned money.

> meaning that one asshole prevented a whole bunch of reasonable people from buying beachfront views with their hard-earned money.

I don't understand this point. You don't have to purchase the road leading to the beach to own beachfront property.

But in practice many developments do have the effect of blocking off access to a piece of beachfront. The state doesn't interfere with those developments, working off of the assumption that the owners are reasonable folks and will follow public access laws.

If the only way to get people to behave reasonably is to not issue building permits, then everyone loses. What you're suggesting is that California should choose the defect/defect quadrant of a game. But there's a more optimal solution -- just tell people like Khosla they're not allowed to defect on this question.

In other words, why should I be prohibited from owning certain types of land or having the chance to purchase into certain types of developments just because Khosla's being an ass about restrictions he knew about when he bought the property? What you're proposing is the "if I can't have it then burn it all down" solution. Which I guess is a way to vindicate Khosla in a sort of pyrrhic way, but everyone else loses.

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