Venture Capitalist sued by California in latest twist on beachfront property

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Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla arrives at San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, California, May 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/Files

A top Indian-American investor in Silicon Valley is being sued by the government of California in what is the latest twist in the long lasting saga relating to his beachfront property.

The Associated Press reported Jan. 6, 2020, that California Attorney General’s office took Vinod Khosla to court to regain public access to the beach, something Khosla recently succeeded in blocking in the decade-long back-and-forth confrontation with authorities and public advocacy groups.

The Attorney General’s office has filed the suit on behalf of the California State Lands Commission and Coastal Commission. The state is demanding that Khosla remove all gates and signage on the access road that runs through his adjacent property.

Khosla’s claim over Martins Beach in San Mateo County, a popular destination with the public for decades, has been fought by several nonprofit organizations and local groups, noted Los Angeles Times.

The state contends Khosla’s claim could set a precedent. “The stakes are high and could set the stage for how other wealthy oceanfront owners across the state might fight to make a beach private,” the LA Times reported quoting the California State Lands Commission and Coastal Commission.

Steve Padilla, chair of the Coastal Commission is quoted saying in several news reports that, “This case goes to the heart of California’s public access mandate. We cannot allow this to be chipped away each time someone purchases beachfront property — it’s a dangerous precedent for the future of public access in California.

Khosla’s lawyer Dori Yob Kilmer told Mercury News the latest claims by the state had been litigated extensively and rejected. “Since the property was purchased by our client, the state, and small activist groups have endeavored to seize our clients private property without compensation,” Kilmer is quoted saying in a statement released to several media outlets, adding, “While such tactics are commonplace in communist systems, they have never been tolerated in the American system where the U.S. Constitution precludes the government from simply taking private property and giving it to the public.”

Mercury News also reported that since the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case two years ago, Khosla has opened the access gate on most days from 9 am to 4:30 pm, and charged motorists to drive in and park on the beach.

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