What I see is a bunch of houses on the beach.
How is this in issue with one person and not all those home owners?
Edit: Even the reviews talk about how you can just walk to the beach without paying for parking. I don't get the problem? Is this a California beach-perspective thing? As far as I know all water front property in the US is public up to a certain distance from the water already.
Edit: here's a timeline: https://www.surfrider.org/pages/timeline-open-martins-beach
They'd likely end up receiving a SLAPP by Khosla, but surely there would be some judgement-proof surfer willing to shoulder the long tail risk, and plenty of people willing to pay for the legal defense.
In the meantime, California has been end-running around the whole right-of-way issue. It's been saying "whether or not there is a public right of way, you need a permit to put up obstructions."
This has worked insofar as Khosla has not actually applied for a permit yet. But at some point the State will have to justify denying Khosla a permit, and asserting "we're going to do through our fence-permitting powers what we cannot do as a matter of property law" is not a great look.
Those people willing to pay legal defense are called the Surfrider Foundation and they're the people that keep suing Khosla to open up the beach.
It's been quite an ordeal.
I assume you mean the police did?
Don't trust anyone when it comes to people with "fuck you" money.
Not trusting people with money (regardless if it's a lot) says something about society in general. People should understand that even amongst the rich, people are very different and diverse despite being in the same socioeconomic class.
No, for the same reasons you can't demolish your neighbor's house the instant you found out the surveying was done wrong and it's on your property. There's a lengthy legal process involved before you get to do that.
Cutting the lock would be destruction of someone else's property. Their actions are a separate legal issue.
I can understand blocking access to the beach being illegal, but being forced to run a private enterprise seems odd...
His argument seems to be that he HAS to maintain the beach and parking lot, which he doesn't want to do because it loses money.. but I am not sure where that idea comes from. He could just close the parking lot and leave the road open. I am not sure about the liability concerns.
There shouldn't be any liability concerns related to the use of a public easement.
I actually not on Khosla's side of this issue, but in the current lawsuit-as-lottery-ticket climate, liability concerns are in fact a reasonable issue.
I also do not think that it is a good thing to make an enemy of the state government if he wins the current set of lawsuits.
If you land lock a beach, in practice (like in the example above) there is an access route used by public which you are NOT entitled to close.
Street-view and Google maps shows a road, but it goes to a bunch of houses. Did the rich guy buy all those houses?
Public != Free
Yes, it's my understanding that Khosla owns the entire compound and all of the houses. It's one property and was operated as a business by the former owners, the Deeney family.
The previous court case that (SCOTUS declined to hear) was really about whether Khosla needs to apply for a permit for his development work that changes public access to his property. SCOTUS declining to hear the case essentially means that Khosla needs to apply for the permit for these changes -- the implication is that until this happens, the case is not actually ripe for review. If he's unable to obtain the permit, then Khosla may be able to pursue his argument that the state's mandated public access is an unconstitutional "taking" of private property. (IANAL)
It seems if he had been more careful with his approach he could have kept the beach clear during winter just like the previous owner did without any legal hassles.
Still doesn't explain all the houses and cars directly on the beach. Does he own all those houses too?
I'm not sure about the law in the US and California, but in some jurisdictions you can't just move an easement. There was an easement running through his property from the road to a specific point on the beach. He can't just move the ending point of the easement to a different spot on the beach.
Couldn't the state just come in and make their own road? Where I live access roads are common on private property, but the are on the borders of the property between private owners.
Is he just that petty that he truly doesn't want others to have access to the beach? Or is it more complicated than that?
Either I'm vastly underestimating how much property on Martins Beach Rd that Khosla owns, or it's poor journalism with a half explanation of the issue.
The 3D map view shows it better. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Martin's+Beachfirstname.lastname@example.org...
From what I can see, it's either:
1. The stretch of Martins Beach Rd that runs along the beach, or
2. The tiny road above the row of houses that runs parallel to the stretch of Martins Beach Rd that runs along the beach.
I don't know how it would be 1, as Martins Beach Rd would be a government funded and managed road. According to the map though, both roads are named the same. Somehow I doubt this though, and one of these roads is private, the other is the real Martins Beach Rd.
However, it still doesn't answer why Khosla would be able to close a whole private road when there's what looks like 22 properties on the upper Martins Beach Rd, and 13 properties on the lower Martins Beach Rd - does he own all of them? Really confusing!
From the LA Times, the "Gate in dispute" is right off highway 1:
The public can do whatever it wants on the beach itself. The argument is about whether the road to the beach is implicitly public property because of prior use.
That PDF provides some tests, and is useful to review prior to reading the judge's decision.
The public can do what it wants on the part of the beach up to the high tide line. It doesn't extend to the whole of what you'd think of as the "beach."
And California basically already seized an easement on his land years ago when they passed the law requiring beach access (although I'm not 100% sure how that's structured legally).
He might have a point about needing to maintain a relatively safe path, but so does every property owner in Malibu and they all seem to have it figured out.
I wonder if this means that any of the property owners involved in land as part of the 1851 sale can now block their existing easements for beach access.
That seems like a pretty radical interpretation. Wouldn't that totally undermine all state law, exempting him from stuff like building codes, state environmental laws, etc.?
That doesn't mean Khosla is exempted from building codes, unless that 1851 treaty says something like "The US government shall be able to regulations the manner in which buildings can be constructed on this land."
Again this is just from what I've gathered from other posters. I'm curious what clause they took from the 1851 treaty that made it clear that he doesn't need to provide easements. Maybe there was a clause that the property could never be seized for public good which the Mexican government put in to prevent the government from evicting Mexicans who wanted to stay on their land post sale.
I have no idea what clause they took from that treaty to show he has the right not to provide easements.
EDIT: I suppose this helps: https://www.google.com/search?q=vinod+khosla+road
Maybe it's the only bit of his property that's vulnerable from a security perspective and he simply wants tighter control of it.
I hope the public win and he doesn't get his way.
I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that he should provide access through the road to the parking lot, and just disallow parking, but it doesn't seem obvious to me. The previous owner did not allow free access (there was a gate), so I think it is OK for the new owner to forbid access entirely.
Seems like the gov’t should figure out some sort of reimbursement program in situations like this.
And the government has never demanded he maintain, at his own expense (mind you, he spent months paying $10k/day fines over this). Just that the access is there.
But really Khosla isn't being told that he has to maintain improvements to the right of way, but rather to simply stop obstructing it.
IMO Khosla should present some numbers on how much it would reasonably cost to maintain whatever land he owns that would be used by the public to get to the beach and the gov't should agree to reimburse some reasonable expense on a quarterly basis.
Additionally this gets super muddled when it comes to coastal constructions, even simple jetties docks may have public safety concerns, protection of private property (if expensive boat maintenance tools or machinery are located on the jetty) - and that will evolve into questions about using coastal constructions to restrict access.
Lastly, the costs - as Khosla mentioned the beach is unprofitable to run, should CA be footing that bill? Could they sublease the property to an entrepreneur that thinks they could make the beachside facilities profitable? It is entirely unreasonable (even given the excessive wealth of Khosla) for him to be forced to maintain an unprofitable entity like that and all the facility liability that goes along with it.
This is a gigantic can of worms.
I look forward to how this might be resolved, but it sure ain't going to be simple.
Does he need to maintain those facilities? Could he just unblock access and move on? This feels like a cheap excuse.
So it's definitely a sticky situation. Personally, I'd just open it up, I think people generally treat beaches OK in Cali, but I can imagine his concern.
As another commenter mentions, it seems like a very reasonable expectation that the state would maintain it.
AFAICT, nothing about this has changed since his purchase of the property, and therefore should have been a consideration before purchase. Arguments to the contrary, such as the owner is currently making, reminds me of people who move next to an existing motorsports raceway and complain about the noise (which has been documented to have actually happened in several locations).
As a matter of principle I'm inclined to agree. However many (possibly most?) US cities require the property owner to maintain the sidewalk fronting their property; this situation might be similar.
Seems like a perfectly fine tradeoff to me. The beach belongs to the public, and not all beaches are well-maintained. If he wants to keep the views on this beach (that he does not own) nice, he can pay to maintain them. Pretty sure running the beach for the next 100 years would be a drop in the bucket for him anyway.
Edited- spelling error.
TBH, the beach is small enough and there is so little capacity for traffic to it that I don't see how it could ever be "profitable" as a cash generator for anyone.
Nor should it be. It's a public benefit.
As such, it should be revenue-neutral.
It's a beach. Why does it have to be profitable?
> should CA be footing that bill?
You mean for cleanup and maintenance?
Sure, why not? If Californians what their beaches, then their tax dollars should be taking care of them.
> Could they sublease the property to an entrepreneur that thinks they could make the beachside facilities profitable?
His realtors knew 100% about the passage used by public which ran through the property.
That would require a very creative reading of the constitution. Congress could pass a law overriding it, and SCOTUS could could uphold that law under the commerce clause (land value in California affects land value in Oregon etc...).
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
California is one of those states, so unless you can show where the coastal access law is prohibited elsewhere in the constitution (and that prohibition has been incorporated), California has done nothing unconstitutional.
nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
"1647 Colonial Ordinance enacted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony ceded title to all intertidal land in what would become the state of Massachusetts to upland owners to encourage “wharfing out” (marine commerce)."
Why not use eminent domain to build a state road to the beach? I mean this will face a court battle too I'm sure but for a slice of land for a road you're not talking that much money (the property owner needs to be compensated by the Fifth Amendment) and building a few miles of road (I honestly don't know how much) also isn't that expensive.
I mean we're talking lawyer fees kind of money here right? Having a state road once and for all solve this issue, no?
I'm generally against governments simply placing the burden for public services onto private individuals. This is the real problem with things like rent control. If the government feels lower rents for certain individuals is a public good then why does the burden for this fall on the property owner instead of the state?
So one could argue the state should provide public access to something that is currently only accessible over private land, right?
California, build a road.
While we're at it, I've read about this story before but had missed the detail that there was a parking lot, a store and toilets at the site built and maintained by the prior owner.
How exactly is this not dedicating the road to public access? What tortured legal argument swindled the court here?
It seems to me that the difference between those two numbers could easily be $30M.
That seems like a perfectly reasonable way to value what the government is taking away via eminent domain.
So he should take $2M for it right? Or he'd have no object to the State giving him $32M and simply taking the whole thing, right?
I'd be somewhat OK with these inflated property values estimates with eminent domain if the owner was forced to take $X-$Y for the remainder from any buyer.
But I agree the state didn’t write the law that way because it would be too costly.
No, he's not. What he paid 10 years ago is not a relevant data point in the calculation. What matters is the current market value.
Eminent domain would compensate Khosla on the market value of the road land value. It has nothing to do with the beach. The beach is owned by the public. No legal team on either side is arguing that. The legal case is about easements (i.e. access).
Why don't you share your comparable analysis or discount cash flow model to see what that road easement actually is worth since you seem believe pretty strongly in the valuation. I'm really curious to how you think a narrow strip of land that is for the easement is worth $30 million given recent land sales in similar areas.
The reasoning is that it wasn't public access, but rather a private business operating on the land. A restaurant, while "Open to the public" is not the same as a truly "public" space (like a state-owned road, or a national park).
It's been years and there's so much else to do!
If you search HN for "Khosla", you will see approximately half of the first page of results are regarding this issue.
Now let's get some real gems like Hollister Ranch and Vickers Hot Springs opened up again.
A) has the audacity to believe they are entitled to such a rare publically beneficial property and
B) has the power (both politically and financially) to see this battle through.
It is absolutely infuriating that a rich individual can get the type of "justice" that the rest of us can never hope to achieve, in the legal system. Or as Peter Thiel put it when he bankrupted Gawker: "If you're a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system."
Unfortunately, this suit is unlikely to make any difference in the above, and it doesn't seem like anyone cares about fixing the above problem. Maybe I'm just being a fundamentalist who's blowing it out of proportion. But my sense of fairness is constantly outraged by how ridiculously hard it is for any layperson to get justice in today's legal system.
Which is amusing since the lawyer that Thiel used is constantly suing on behalf of single-digit millionaires to stifle free speech all over the country (including threatening to sue the NYT for reporting on Harvey Weinstein's crimes). Not a whole lot of principles in that group.
Harvey Weinstein isn't a single-digit millionaire but a triple-digit one, his net worth is estimated at $240-300 million. This (and the lawyers work for Thiel) is consistent with, though does not imply, Thiel’s contention that the wealth at which one has effective access to the legally system is much greater than that of a single-digit millionaire. Not sure what other “single-digit” millionaires you think he is working on behalf of, but your one concrete example certainly isn't one.
Or Barry Honig's penny stock charades where Harder represented the fraudster in suing people who wrote about his fraud and then represented another alleged penny-stock fraudster John Hurry in his suits against journalists who wrote about his fraud:
Harder is a bad dude who sues journalists for seriously troubling reasons. That many people agreed with his takedown of Gawker is unfortunate when the rest of his 'portfolio' is so poisonous to the first amendment.
Ayyadurai, however, does seem to be a single-digit millionaire or less.
> Harder is a bad dude who sues journalists for seriously troubling reasons.
Sure, I just don't see evidence that it's primarily or even regularly on behalf of people who aren't significantly wealthier (or sponsored by someone wealthier) than single-digit millionaires, such that it is somehow a contradiction to Thiel’s claim about the limited effective legal power of people at merely that level of wealth when they lack a wealthier benefactor.
I guess one way to prove your point about lack of access to the legal system for average people is to be an astounding hypocrite and sue some of those people, but I don't feel like that's the common legacy of that whole episode.
You can read Mike Masnick's opinions here: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161103/11502935958/heres...
Note that Hulk Hogan isn't (and wasn't) a single-digit millionaire either.
How would you feel if a public defender took the position of "nah, this gal is clearly a criminal, we have seen the footage --its a pass, let her represent herself".
Gawker was a muckraking institution with little of worth. But Hogan had settled for 0.005% of what he asked of Gawker with the other involved party, and was amenable to taking an ownership share of the Gawker empire.
Don't paint Thiel in some white knight suit just helping embattled people "fight the power".
As twisted as this logic may be, I guess it is plausible some egotistical old guy would think this way.
Edit: This is the quote:
"The “beach issue,” as it is called internally at Khosla Ventures, has surprisingly not been a problem in the office. “It’s an incredible negotiating tool for me,” said Samir Kaul, another partner at Khosla Ventures.
When a company was trying to “screw” the firm, Mr. Kaul brought up news articles about the beach at a meeting. “I said: ‘My boss is going to the Supreme Court for a beach he’s never gone to. We’re not posturing here. This guy’s not going to settle,’” Mr. Kaul said. “And then I just sat there."
> Khosla, in legal filings, said he “was willing to give the business a go, and continued to allow members of the public to access the property upon payment of a fee. But [he] soon faced the same problem the Deeneys had faced: The business was operating at a considerable loss, as the costs of keeping the beach, the parking lot and other facilities in operable and safe condition significantly exceeded the fees the business generated.”
Which makes me inherently distrustful of how the media portrays this article. What does "give access" mean?
I've encountered a narrow footpath path along a property line in Hawaii to "give access" that was mainly used by people in the neighborhood. If I remember correctly, both beachfront properties on either side had fences.
In San Diego, I encountered a narrow stairway between two condo buildings; but there were so many public parks and streets that came up to the beach that I didn't understand the point.
I'm not a lawyer, but could Vinod satisfy the law by having a narrow footpath along his property line?
> If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.
Let's just focus on the one for now.
It's important to understand that this dispute involves two separate tracks of issues, one where Khosla has been winning, and one where he has been losing.
The first issue is the property right. An ancient doctrine called the "public trust" doctrine holds that the waters and beaches up to the high tide line belongs to the public. Moreover, it holds that, generally, there is an easement across private land to access that area.
However, California is a johnny-come-lately state. As a result, under Supreme Court precedent (Summa Corp. v. California), the state doesn't have easements over certain private property that dates to Mexican land grants: https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?art... (p. 429-430). Based on that precedent, the California Court of Appeals has held that there is no easement (as a matter of public trust doctrine) over Khosla's property:
> While the public trust doctrine can protect access rights over private land, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend that protection to private land certified under the 1851 federal law implementing the Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo, where the federal or state government had not asserted an interest in title proceeding. Therefore, the court of appeal in Friends I found that, because
the Martin’s Beach property had been certified under the 1851 law without any mention of a public interest and never passed into state ownership, there could be no common law public trust easement over the land to the water.
There was a subsequent suit based on an alternate theory: that although there was no common law easement, an easement arose because the previous property owner "dedicated" the road to public use. The California Court of Appeals rejected that t heory too. https://www.jurist.org/news/2019/11/ca-appellate-court-rules....
> As such, according to the common law of public dedication, the court determined that Martin’s Beach is not dedicated to public access.
Opinion here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/A154022.PDF
So now we are on the third string legal theory (from the article):
> State officials have been following these cases closely and are now taking a swing at the fight. The new lawsuit asks the court to consider unexamined evidence that shows that the beach, as well as the gated road, have been historically used by the public — citing a common law doctrine known as “implied dedication.”
We've gone from an easement under property law, to a "public dedication," to "implied public dedication."
That brings us to the second legal issue, which is whether Khosla needs a permit to build a structure to close the road to the beach. Even though courts have repeatedly held that there is no public right to use the road, the California Coastal Commission has found that it can use its powers to control development on the coast to keep Khosla from actually vindicating his private property right. So far, the State has been successful on that front. But after last year's loss on the underlying property rights issue, that position gets harder to justify. The State can only go so long using its authority over the building of fences to keep open a public easement that courts have repeatedly held does not exist. Hence this lawsuit.
As to your point (B)--it's a wonderful thing that private citizens have the financial resources to fight the State and vindicate their legitimate property rights. The opposite of that is tyranny.
The previous owners had been allowing public access, as is the (not) "ancient" standard and law.
And Khosla's best argument is the property deed is based on Mexican land grants prior to California being ratified as a state?!? I'm sure he had precisely zero idea of that, and the fact that his lawyers are using that as an argument shows just how grasping it is.
The cases lost by the governments were also very careful in not trying to make some of the claims you say they do. They were very narrow in focus. Which is why California is still able to pursue this.
In 2019, the California Court of Appeals rejected the notion that just because the previous owner allowed access, Khosla was required to allow access: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Court-ruling-on-.... The State this time is trying only a variation on that same argument.
> And Khosla's best argument is the property deed is based on Mexican land grants prior to California being ratified as a state?!? I'm sure he had precisely zero idea of that, and the fact that his lawyers are using that as an argument shows just how grasping it is.
Not only is it not grasping, the California Court of Appeals decided that issue in Khosla's favor years ago: https://www.mercurynews.com/2013/10/24/vinod-khosla-wins-key... (describing trial court decision, which was later affirmed).
> The cases lost by the governments were also very careful in not trying to make some of the claims you say they do. They were very narrow in focus. Which is why California is still able to pursue this.
No. The previous cases, brought by Friends of Martins Beach, addressed the broad rule: is there a public trust easement over Khosla's property? The courts answered "no." Then they rejected the argument that there was a "public dedication" of the property. The State is now suing on the third-string argument: "implied public dedication."
Absolutely it is. I guarantee that was not on Khosla's radar as a defense against public access when he acquired the property. And given that almost all of his other arguments were swept away, it's only in that his law firm went for an outlier. "Oh hey, there is a land deed that predates California as a state. We can use that to argue that we're exempt".
Because by no means was this his first rebuttal. It only came out after many other attempts. I'm sure the paralegal who thought of it got a bonus that year.
You have know idea what Khosla was thinking at the time he bought the property. His Guadalupe Hidalgo argument is actually based on 1984 Supreme Court precedent. He could easily have been fully aware of that when he bought the property, hoping to use it privately.
The reason that it wasn't "his first rebuttal" is because of the tactics the State took. The State didn't argue that there wasn't a public easement across the property. It took the abusive view that it could effectively create such an easement by prohibiting Khosla from building a barrier to keep people from crossing the property. That's why the first issue that came up was whether he needed a permit to do that. But attacking the permit requirement first isn't some sort of admission that you don't have a private property right.
> The public trust doctrine is the principle that the sovereign holds in trust for public use some resources such as shoreline between the high and low tide lines, regardless of private property ownership
California - the sovereign - holds the property rights. It must use the property rights for the benefit of the public, but like any other trustee it is the legal owner of the property and what is to the public "benefit" is substantially within its discretion.
A deontological (or partially deontological) system like ours fails its people when it fails to ensure outcomes for the common good. Otherwise you get a system where the powerful can hide in the shadow of legal complexity that exactly overlaps their own personal interest.
The state trying to force a billionaire to open up a beach is not tyranny. It is undoubtedly not in the billionaire's interest but there is no world where it is tyrannical.
Tyrannical governments like the Soviet Union were premised on disregarding private property rights. In the name of "the common good" they confiscated private farms and ended up starving tens of millions of people. Obviously the effects of that are much worse, but the mindset -- that private property rights and the rule of law must yield to bureaucrats' view of the "common good" was the same.
Private property is sacrosanct. In the Constitution, "property" comes right after "life" and "liberty." That rule dates back to the Magna Carta, written 805 years ago. Using regulatory powers to end-run around property rights is one of the most tyrannical things a government can do.
> The state trying to force a billionaire to open up a beach is not tyranny.
That's not what I said. I said OP's hypothetical world, where private citizens don't have the "financial" "power" to "see [a] battle through" with the State over property rights would be tyrannical.
To date, Khosla has won on the key legal issue: the public has no easement to access the beach over Khosla's property. Khosla is entirely justified in fighting the State's efforts to do through its fence-permitting powers what it cannot do as a matter of property law. Saying that Khosla shouldn't even be able to engage in that "battle" is espousing tyranny.
I just don't quibble over minutia like that. I don't get people who do. This seems like a gigantic waste of time and resources where even if you win you lose.
Let's be real, he was never in that house. I'd venture to say he spent maybe 30 days per year in that house? Like any other rich asshole with a vacation house in prime territory he bought it and wanted to keep any riffraff away. He thinks he deserves it and not for one second did he think about his public image.
Right. It's just like David Geffen's fake driveway to stop people parking near his house on the street. That he had painted with yellow and red lines too, to "imply" (mislead) into thinking other areas were Fire Lanes.
People would park there because they knew that it was a sham. They would get towed by police / security because "how did they 'know' it was a scam".
To the point where people would park there posting articles in their windshield saying that they know it's not actually a driveway, not actually a fire lane, etc., etc.
They still get towed. And even if you get your money back, there's the repeated issue of coming back from the beach to find your car gone. Because a rich asshole doesn't want the riff raff to use the public street he built a house on.
It's more like Vinod is extremely stubborn, especially when he believes something is a matter of principle.
From his POV, the principle here is around free enterprise. He believes the state is requiring him to pay to maintain an unprofitable business (a private road and parking lot), which he doesn't believe they have the right to do.
As far as I know, he doesn't care much about restricting beach access.
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Otherwise, if I own it, I should be able to keep others off of it. You don't actually own something that you cannot control access to.
If you disagree, then keep your front door unlocked, because I'm moving in with some friends later this week.
So land ownership is a right afforded by society to society, like any other kind of legal framework, and part of that is limitations. In earlier parts of human history, if you tried to cut off a population's access to a valuable resource like water by claiming land ownership, they'd just come with sharp implements, impale you on them, and take the land back from you. In modern times, we need to accomplish the same end, but with hopefully no bloodshed.
In this case, there is a public trust doctrine, which says that public beaches (up to the high tide line) are dedicated to the use of the public. But the California Court of Appeals has held that this doctrine doesn't apply here, due to an oddity in the history of Khosla's land. It dates from a Mexican land grant: vhttps://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/04/27/martins-beach-appeal....
> In a 52-page opinion, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco upheld the main element of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald’s 2014 decision in Khosla’s favor. The court found the public does not have the right under the California constitution to cross Khosla’s property to reach the shoreline.
The California court reached a decision about what the property rights are. The State didn't like the result, so now it's been looking for other ways to do the same thing. Even if you don't like Khosla, you shouldn't be happy about that.
There is a constitutional way for the state to acquire a property right against a property owner's will: eminent domain. But that requires "just compensation" (i.e. California will have to pay Khosla for the easement). California is hesitant to do that because it would rather try to bully Khosla into giving up the property for free.
I'm envisioning them doing this while simultaneously denying Khosla's application to subdivide the property along that strip.
It's a legal construct. Just like the country is.
Public easements to public beaches are quite normal.
Except this particular beach happens to be a very abnormal one. This issue was resolved years ago, and Khosla won: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/04/27/martins-beach-appeal.... In 2016, the California Court of Appeals held that, because Khosla's property dates from a Mexican land grant, and the state never reserved an easement, there is no public easement on Khosla's property. In 2019, the same court rejected the alternate theory that an easement had been created by the property owner "dedicating the easement to public use." See: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-26/billionai...
As you recognize, the "public easement" theory is what applies here. But California lost on that theory. There is no easement here. California has been attempting to keep the beach open using unrelated regulatory powers. (Basically, there is no public easement, but through our powers to regulate what can be built on the beach, we can keep you from building anything to keep the public out.)
If it wasn't for the wildly misleading reporting, everyone would recognize this as overreach and abuse by the State.
Any legal findings impeding access are a failing of law.
1) Supremacy Clause. Federal treaties take priority over state law. When California was ceded to the United States, the Mexican government demanded that existing property rights would be preserved. Congress created a Commission to resolve all existing Mexican property claims in 1851, and the results became binding. In the 1984 case, the Supreme Court held that this federal commitment took precedence over California's public access law. The treaty could theoretically be renegotiated, but California cannot do so unilaterally.
2) Law is subject to individual rights ("life, liberty, and property"). California cannot just pass a law giving everyone beach access. It is constrained by pre-existing rules and property rights. In the case of beach access, pre-existing rules usually gives you an avenue. Under English law, the Crown owned the beaches (up to the high tide line). When the United States became independent, the states inherited that property right. (And johnny-come-lately states like California were created under Congress's power under the Constitution to create new states, and since 1796 Congress has done so providing that the new state enters the union on "equal footing" with existing states. That has been interpreted to mean that such states similarly own their beaches to the high tide line.)
But in this specific case the rules say that California doesn't have a property right to allow people to cross Khosla's property. It cannot just make a law giving people that right, because that would infringe Khosla's property right. The only thing it can do is buy Khosla's property if it wants to dedicate it to public use.
Here in California we do hold what citizens want to a great degree of value. We've worked for a more direct democracy with citizen initiated constitutional amendments and more recently, citizen initiated redistricting.
With this in mind, you have to concede that at some point you're going to have a harder time arguing lawyerly points to an ever-growing statewide coalition.
Have such an easement recorded for all real estate parcels touching the coast. Done.
I know they have that 1976 law mentioned in the article, but clearly that was not strongly written so as to force this.
I hope it's not one of those 'feel-good' laws written like "All Californians should be able to access the beaches" (without specifying actionable frameworks like easements and such).
> The squabble has spurred a spate of lawsuits that now focus on whether Khosla needs state permission to gate off the road — and a string of California courts has said he does.
> In a significant victory for coastal access rights in California, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Silicon Valley billionaire’s appeal to keep a beach to himself.
Wiki indicates the same; some early wins, all overturned on appeal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinod_Khosla#Martins_Beach_dis...
It's worth reading Surfrider Foundation's opposition to Khosla's Supreme Court certiorari petition: https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/17/17-1198/50086/2018.... Their #1 argument was that the Supreme Court shouldn't take this case now because Khosla hasn't even applied for a permit. (He was just fighting an injunction that keeps him from closing the road until he gets a permit.)
But eventually, the State will have to deny Khosla the permit, and justify doing so. It will be very hard for the State to say "we are going to keep you from building a fence to close this road," while simultaneously acknowledging "the public doesn't actually have a right to use this road." If the State uses its permitting power to effectively give itself an easement that doesn't otherwise exist, that will tee up the takings argument that was only theoretical in the Supreme Court petition. And I like Khosla's odds on prevailing on that argument.
I'm not sure what else really matters here?
And for that I’m thankful. The last thing you want is the govt to be able to take property by declaration.
As a part of the settlement of the Mexican-American war, the US has to respect existing land ownership in perpetuity.
Rather than be infuriated, be comforted in the fact that in spite of all his money he has been unable to overturn this law. He has made a lot of lawyers rich doing it, and will have paid a chunk of San Mateo's superior court's budget this year in fees. And he still lost.
Now the state and coastal commission are getting a court order so that they can start fining him without the need to go to court. Think of it as a really really regressive tax on a rich land owner. Let's say he writes it off as the cost of doing business and just keeps paying fines. Well I could single handedly double the budget that the coastal commission has available for keeping beach access open. That's a lot of resources.
What do you mean? He won at every turn. The courts have ruled that there's no easement, and that the public have no access to the water through his property.
Since he has every right to get such a fencing permit (as there is no easement, right of way or any other public access through his property where he wants to fence it), in a perfect world he’d simply apply for such permit and promptly get it. In reality though, it is highly likely that the state of California will try to use the fence permitting rights it has to stop him from exercising his property rights, which is exactly what Khosla tried to ensure cannot happen in his Supreme Court petition.
It is kind of odd that people continually frame this as a problem with an individual instead of a legal clarification of land use rights. The conflicts over access and who pays for services and liabilities such as trash accumulating have always been there but were allowed to fester as long as people sort of worked things out. Realistically that situation was never stable and was always heading for some kind of forced legal resolution no matter who was owning and who was surfing. Was public access allowed or not? In the past mostly locals would have known about the spot in the first place and anyone having problems with access would have walked away and maybe tried again later. The longstanding tension does not represent full fair access.
Once he got money - he revealed his true self
My understanding is that his guy is a Grade A douche bag.
P.S. 1. I don't care who khosla is. But looking at the whole debate it seems the whole opposition is based on the fact that he is a billionaire. I refuse to buy that line of argument. Tell me it is illegal for so an so reason and I will buy. But he is an asshole or he is a billionaire is just emotions doing the talking :-)
P.S. 2. Going by the comments below, I feel compelled to clarify that my comment is not informed by the local laws. I am just a little bit puzzled by the words billionaire and asshole being used synonymously. The law should be same for everyone. A billionaire can hire more lawyers is no reason to call him an asshole in this context even if he has earned the title elsewhere unequivocally.
Update: typo and added a p.s.
Of course, Khosla should have access to the lands he owns. Under California law, land is something that private citizens can own. A beach is not one of those things.
EDIT: that being said, private property rights do not always or even typically grant you exclusivity. Many jurisdictions have various requirements on what private landowners must allow the public to do on their land. For example, many jurisdictions have freedom to roam provisions, which ensure that the public has access to wilderness, even if privately owned. The United States does not have this in general, but it is certainly within the purview of the states to legislate such things. In many US cities, homeowners own the sidewalk and must maintain it, but allow the public access. This is written in the deed, or mandated by statue.
The previous owner built a gate on the property, which was open and closed at their whim, posted "no trespassing" signs, and charged for access to the road and beach.
Regardless, the right thing for Kholsa to do is provide access. And further the bad press probably is causing more issues than the few folks that would be accessing it ever would.
“Easement by prescription”.
And now somehow he has people on the internet arguing that a billionaire should be allowed exclusive benefit to public land- as if of all people, the billionaire is the one that needs the public handout.
No I didn't say that. If the exclusivity is not part of the sale then it should be trivial to kick his butt. The fact it isn't is confounding to me. Perhaps because I am not an American.
No one is allowed to own a beach in California. This isn't about mob rule, this is about a choice Californians made many years ago that says beaches are public.
The beach is not his.
Wow, how did it take the public so long to wake up? I thought the default was that it was public property in most places on earth.
He has no right to do what he is doing but the only reason we are talking about it at all is because he is rich.
Fair point, but...
> On the other hand if his purchase did not include exclusivity to the beach then by all means go there and piss around.
This, by law, does not exist in any form in California (unless the beach is on a lake rather than the ocean).
This is simply a case of someone flaunting the law.
And there I see why he has hopes. If it is legal on a lake then someone would wonder why not on ocean. Rather than asking the nice people on internet one might as well go to a court of law.
Why are people angry that he went to court. Where I come from people settle these kind of questions in less civilised ways. Court is better i think.
#2. Within the first paragraph of the first hit on search results, a policeman is enforcing the restriction. I would be encouraged to dig in if I were in a similar situation instead of being intimidated.
#3. I am not on either side. Just watching and weighing in from far away as an indifferent observer.
My front lawn can be eminent domained to build new power lines, so clearly the state has greater authority over property than your argument represents.
That's not the issue. If you own property that's completely encircled by other properties, you're entitled to an easement through a neighboring property. Conversely, if you own a parcel of land that participates in the blockade of another parcel, you very well might be required to let the owners of that other parcel to walk on your lawn to get to their property. You'll probably want to maintain a walkway, because if their daily use turns your lawn to mud, you'll probably be liable for any injuries they sustain.