Effort to Secure Public Access to Martins Beach Moves Forward

September 07, 2017

Mercury News
By Jason Green

SACRAMENTO — An effort to purchase a public route through private property to Martin’s Beach has cleared another hurdle.

On Thursday, the California Assembly passed Senate Bill 42, which would create a new account within the State Lands Commission that could accept outside donations, providing the agency money to take a public easement over a private road by eminent domain.

Sun Microsystems cofounder and tech billionaire Vinod Khosla closed the gate to the road when he purchased 89 acres surrounding Martin’s Beach, south of Half Moon Bay, in 2008. The public had previously used the route to access the scenic shoreline.

“I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Assembly for their affirmation of the public’s right to access California’s beaches,” said Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, the bill’s sponsor, after the 54-20 vote. “It’s high time for that gate to be opened with a sign reading, ‘public welcome.'”

The bill will return next week to the Senate for approval of amendments made by the Assembly. From there, it will head to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 15 to act on bills.

In December, the State Lands Commission appraised a public right-of-way over the 6.4 acres of Martins Beach Road at $360,000. But Khosla said he would only sell it for $30 million, nearly as much as he paid for the entire property. If the state takes the road by eminent domain, a court would ultimately decide on the fair market value.