US Court Orders Billionaire Vinod Khosla to Allow Beach Access
A California court has ordered Vinod Khosla to restore access to the public beach, which he had closed off for his private use.
An appeals court has asked Indian-American businessman Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to open the gates to Martins Beach in northern California, which was blocked by him.
Khosla bought a property adjacent to the beach, which included the road to Martins Beach, in 2008. People often used the beach for surfing and fishing, and the previous owners had even provided a general store and public restroom for them.
After buying the property in 2010, Khosla blocked public access and put up signs against trespassing. Since then, he has faced multiple lawsuits spearheaded by the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit group that is the is the prosecutor in the case.
“Vinod Khosla, with his billions of dollars, bought this piece of property and said, ‘No, no, the public isn’t going to use this anymore. End of story’,” Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “He got away with it for many years … This is probably one of the most important public right-of-access cases in the country.”
Turning Beach into Private Property
Khosla’s constant refusal to open the gates has brought forth the issue of wealthy landowners and businessmen who are trying to buy the beaches along the California coast and turn public lands into private property.
In 2016, Khosla’s attorneys said that access would be restored if the government paid him $30 million, which was termed as an unreasonably high amount by the state officials. Later that year, in October, Khosla accused the government of using “coercion and harassment” to breach his private property rights, following which he sued two state agencies.
Court Order Welcomed by People
The court’s ruling in favour of opening the gates is being hailed as victory by people. “The decision is an important step to vindicate the principle that the public has a right to access the California coast regardless of their wealth and resources,” Eric Buescher, a lawyer on the team representing Surfrider, told the Washington Post.
Born in India, Khosla, 62, did his graduation from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. He went on to pursue a Master’s course at Stanford Business School. In 1982, two years after finishing his MBA, Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems along with his Stanford classmates. SUN is the acronym for the Stanford University Network. He was listed as a billionaire by Forbes magazine this year, and has net worth of $1.55 billion.