Indian American Billionaire Files Petition Against Opening Access to California Beach

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has been embroiled in a lawsuit about keeping the surfing beach closed to the public.


Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla filed a petition on Feb. 22 with the United States Supreme Court to keep access to Martins Beach, which is next to his 89-acre property in Northern California, private. The access to the surfing beach is through the Indian American billionaire’s property.

Khosla was ordered to open the Martins beach to the public in August 2017 by the state court. In the latest petition, Khosla’s lawyers argued that the state law regulating California’s coastline is “Orwellian”, and that the state court’s interpretation of the law in Khosla’s case “crosses a constitutional line.”

The ruling against Khosla “will throw private property rights in California into disarray,” the petition states, the Guardian reported. “After all, petitioner is hardly the only private property owner along the vast California coast, or the only one who would prefer to exclude the public from its private property.”

In response to Khosla’s petition, Mark Massara, an attorney for the Surfrider Foundation — which is trying to keep the beach open — called the appeal “a Hail Mary pass for a financial windfall” based on “preposterous” legal arguments. He said that if Khosla wins there could be a “financial free for all.”

“The only way they can find for Vinod is to throw out the entire California coastal program,” Massara said, according to the Guardian. “It’s hard to fathom what would happen to California’s beaches and all beach access in the United States.”

He told India West that the analytics are against Khosla. The Supreme Court hears only 150 of 7,000 cases it receives and if the apex American court dismisses Khosla’s petition he would have to open the beach to the public.

The previous owners of the property had opened access to the public for half a century and charged them for parking and other amenities. But Khosla has been embroiled in this controversy ever since he bought the property.

He has never applied for a permit to close the road but took the matter to court directly, where he was warned that he would have to pay around $11,000 a day for keeping the access shut. “It’s the equivalent of saying that you know the IRS is not going to treat you fairly so you’re not going to file a tax return,” said Massara. “He won’t spend $200 on a permit application, but he’ll pay $10m to go to the U.S. supreme court.”

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