Just in case you lost track of the Martins Beach saga, here is a quick summary and update. According to reports, a couple of years after billionaire Vinod Khosla bought beachfront property in San Mateo County for over $30 million, his property manager locked a gate to a private access road on the property. This access road, however, in addition to providing access to the property's residence, also had been used by the public to access Martins Beach (the parties do not agree as to whether the public use was permissive or under claim of right).
Following the gate closure, lawsuits have been filed, the Coastal Commission has initiated an investigation into a possible public prescriptive easement, and State Senator Jerry Hill has introduced legislation (SB 968) requiring the California State Lands Commission to acquire public access by eminent domain. As recently reported by Aaron Kinney of the San Mateo County Times, the legislature has moved one step closer to passing SB 968, "clearing the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote." Having cleared the Committee, SB 968 will now go to the full Assembly for a vote, and, if it passes there, to the Senate floor. It should be noted that while SB 968 originally "required" the State Lands Commission to acquire public access should negotiations with the property owner fail, the version approved by the Committee would "ask" the State Lands Commission to use eminent domain to acquire public access.
Ben Rubin is chair of Nossaman’s Environment & Land Use Group. Ben assists developers, public agencies, landowners and corporate clients on a variety of complex land use and environmental matters. He counsels clients on matters ...
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