Martins Beach, near Half Moon Bay in the County of San Mateo, is the subject of protracted litigation on various fronts stemming from tech billionaire Vinod Khosla’s 2009, decision to change the public’s access to and use of Martins Beach by permanently closing and locking a gate to the public across Martins Beach Road, adding signs to the gate, changing the messages on a billboard on nearby Highway 1, and hiring security guards to deter the public from crossing or using the property to access the beach. From the 1930s or earlier, Khosla’s predecessor encouraged the public to use the road to access Martin’s Beach. They also erected the billboard, which invited the public to use the beach, and provided a general store, public toilets, and a parking area. For some of that time they charged a $.25 entry fee.
We wrote about one strand of the litigation last year—Friends of Martin’s Beach v. Martin’s Beach 1 LLC, 246 Cal.App.4th 1312 (2016)—in which the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District addressed an unincorporated association’s lawsuit seeking access to the coast at Martins Beach based on claimed rights of access under various theories. In Friends of Martins Beach, the Court of Appeal held that a plaintiff group had alleged facts sufficient to state a common law dedication claim and thus remanded that claim to the trial court. Because the Friends of Martin’s Beach case is still pending there, the existence of public access rights to Martins Beach is presently undetermined.