Photo: Getty

When you’re having a picnic, the last thing you want is ants, and when you’re a billionaire venture capitalist, it’s equally irksome to have plebeians accessing the beach next to your 89 acres of land. On Thursday, Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla filed a 151-page petition with the Supreme Court in order to fight to keep the public off the shoreline near his property.

Khosla purchased the property in 2008 for $32.5 million, which stretches along Martins Beach in San Mateo County, according to SFGate. He reportedly padlocked the gate to the shoreline in September 2010, barring access to the beach the previous owners had allowed since the 1920s.


Khosla’s appeal with the Supreme Court argues that he shouldn’t have to get a permit to lock the public access gates, claiming the California Coastal Act is a violation of his constitutional rights. The California Coastal Act was enacted in 1976 to ensure the public had access to the California shoreline.

“These two laws were really instrumental in changing the way Los Angeles, Southern California and the whole state’s coastline looks and the ability of people in California to enjoy those resources,” Molly Selvin, associate dean for interdisciplinary programs at Southwestern Law School, told KCET, referring to the California Coastal Act and Proposition 20.

In 2014, a San Mateo County judge ruled that Khosla needed to obtain a permit before padlocking the gates, and last August a state appeals court agreed with the ruling. Thursday’s appeal marks Khosla’s continued battle with the courts to shut the public out. He did briefly open the gates in October of last year, but attorney Joseph Cotchett, who worked with nonprofit Surfrider Foundation to sue Khosla in 2013, doesn’t think it was out of goodwill.

“I think this man is so embarrassed by his conduct that somebody must have said to him, ‘open the gate and let the courts figure it out down the line,’” Cotchett told the San Francisco Chronicle.


It remains to be seen whether the nation’s highest court will take Khosla’s case, which the California Supreme Court declined to hear in October. Mercury News reports that the Supreme Court will make a decision on whether it will take his case within a few months.

“It was very much expected that when you have a billionaire who wants his own private beach at the expense of 39 million Californians,” State Senator Jerry Hill told Mercury News. “He will do anything to have a private beach and deny other people their right to enjoy the coast in California.”


Share This Story

Get our newsletter