Surfers Fighting for Public Beach Access

Private owner blocking Martin's Beach in California


A Silicon Valley venture capitalist has pushed a group of surfers to point break in a dispute over access to a stretch of coastline called Martin’s Beach. The Surfrider Foundation, a coastal protection group, filed a lawsuit this week alleging that the private owner of the beachfront property south of San Francisco has violated the law by closing an access road used by local surfers and fishermen.

While the lawsuit doesn’t name the owner, he is believed to be Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and prominent clean energy investor. Under California’s constitution, all beaches are open to the public.

Though not all landowners are required to allow access to their property, new landowners are supposed to acquire a permit for any changes they make regarding the use of the beach. According to Surfrider’s lawyers, no such permit was acquired by the owners of Martin’s Beach. Khosla has not released a statement on the matter.

Outside covered the contributions of Surfrider and other beach rescue operations in 2011.