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Billionaire Appeals to SCOTUS Over Beach Access

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

The tech billionaire that bought Martin's Beach, located just outside Half Moon Bay, California, has been facing an uphill legal battle ever since he decided to shut out the public. He's pretty much lost every step of the way.

Now, Vinod Khosla is at the top of that hill and asking SCOTUS to review the decision requiring him to maintain public access. Despite the fact that his plea is not expected to be taken up, commentators believe that the case provides SCOTUS a vehicle to further restrict a state's right to control private property.

Beaching to the Point

Rather than seeking limited review of an issue or two, Khosla is challenging more than just the law preventing him from owning what no one else can. An attorney for Khosla's opponents, the Surfrider Foundation commented that SCOTUS would need to throw out California's and other state's beach access laws to rule in Khosla's favor.

Surfrider's attorney doesn't believe such would be likely given the nature of the case being that Khosla has still failed to even pay the $200 permit application to seek to change the public's access, per the current rules, which he may have been able to qualify under given the financial loss the beach operated at. Additionally, the $11,000 plus per day civil penalty did not deter Khosla from closing the beach off from the public's access.

Renting Via Litigation

Although Khosla has been ordered to reopen public access or face the per day fine, for a billionaire, $11k a day isn't much. It basically translates into a little over $4 million per year, plus the cost of attorneys' fees and court costs for keeping the action going. Which, at this point, may run Khosla another few million, which for beach front property, even if only temporary, he's probably willing to part with it.

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