Martins Beach: Political Gains Made as Legal Battles Rekindle

June 12, 2017

Mercury News
By Eric Kuhri

SAN MATEO COUNTY — As the political crawl to secure a public path across a billionaire’s property to the once-popular Martins Beach gains ground, the accompanying legal brawl will be revived in a pair of hearings over the next two weeks.

It’s a two-front fight that access advocates believe can be won in either theater. But, pitted against an opponent with deep pockets and an entrenched personal property rights defense, they acknowledge there’s a long campaign ahead.

“There’s significant public interest here and a push to arrive at a political solution,” said attorney Eric Buescher of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, which is involved in both legal actions to be heard this month. “And if that occurs, by all means, that’s fantastic. But if it doesn’t, it’s going to play out in the courts. And that will play out for a long time.”

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo County, saw his bill to create a pot of money that could be used to buy a 6.4-acre swath of land — by force if necessary — across tech titan Vinod Khosla’s coastside property pass through the senate on a May 31 partisan vote.

If it gets through the assembly — where Democrats have more than the two-thirds majority needed for the urgency bill — and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the State Lands Commission would have the mechanism to use eminent domain to take the easement, should it choose to do so.

Meanwhile, San Mateo County is poised to put up $1 million toward doing just that — an agenda item to allocate the money was shelved last month, but officials said it will come back to the board of supervisors after more review and analysis.

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