Thursday, March 25, 2100


The Surfrider Foundation San Mateo County Chapter has been engaged in an effort to reestablish public access to Martin's Beach, and to preserve access and the beach for future generations to enjoy. This blog is a place to keep posted on campaign efforts, learn more, share your love for Martin's, and get involved.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

State Legislature Steps Up to Bat

As most followers are aware, earlier in February, Senator Jerry Hill (D- San Mateo), introduced a bill to establish permanent access to Martin's Beach.  Senate Bill 968 requires that the State Lands Commission consult and enter negotiations with the property owner adjacent to the beach (Vinod Khosla) to purchase land required to provide permanent public access to the public beach.  The bill further states that if purchase cannot be negotiated by 2016, the State Lands Commission shall acquire an access easement via eminent domain. 

Surfrider Foundation is grateful for the introduction of this bill and grateful that the legislature is considering a means for addressing this very important loss of access to Martin's Beach. 

The bill has passed through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a 7-2 vote. Senators Evans, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Monning, Pavley, and Wolk voting to pass the bill, and Senators Cannella and Fuller voting against it.  If you are a constituent, please consider hand-writing a note to any of these Senators to either thank them for their vote, or to urge them to reconsider their vote when the bill comes before them again.  (Contact info can be found here.  If you're not sure who your Senator is, you can find out here.)

SB 968 is to be heard today, on Earth Day, by the Senate Committee on Judiciary.   

Monday, February 3, 2014

An Open Letter to Vinod Khosla

February 3, 2014

To: Vinod Khosla

As of writing this letter, it has been 2.5 years since we first wrote to you to ask that you engage in a dialogue about your closure of Martin’s Beach to the public.   At that time, we could only guess that you were the owner, as there was no public documentation of the name of the new owner of the property adjacent to the beach, other than “Martin’s Beach I, LLC” and Martin’s Beach II, LLC”.  You opted to hide your name from the public for reasons we can only assume, like avoiding public scrutiny and outreach efforts in response to closure of the only road leading to this well-loved beach.

Now that you have been “outed,” your name and face have been associated with this issue, yet you still hide behind proxies who act and speak on your behalf.  This runs contrary to your very public persona that is constantly in the limelight, advocating for cleantech solutions or advising others on achieving success in the tech sector. 

Such behavior also runs contrary to statements made on your behalf, such as “the property owner strives to be a constructive member of the community”, despite being “very aware of the community concern about the situation.” [i]  Certainly it does not reflect that you “feel badly about the controversy surrounding Martin’s Beach.”[ii]  Shirking attempts to engage you in a dialogue reveals you to be rather disinterested in a “community conversation” or an outcome that would be “constructive.”

It almost seems like you think by ignoring the community we will go away.  Like we will forget about this beach that families have enjoyed and built lives around, or forget about the bigger picture of public access to beaches in California. 

We won’t.

Surfrider Foundation continues to hope for a constructive conversation that will result in both public access to Martin’s Beach and respect for the local private property.

We call upon you, Mr. Khosla, to step into the light and demonstrate that you are a constructive member of the community by engaging in a conversation with the community.  Dialogue could eliminate the need for litigation and lead to an amicable solution to give the public access to the beach they cherish.

Citizens wishing to join this call to action to Mr. Khosla may do so here:

Monday, December 2, 2013


Under the authority of the "emergency" project permitted by San Mateo County and the California Coastal Commission, construction of the 963 foot rock revetment has commenced at Martin's Beach. 

The construction company hired by permit holders Martin's Beach, I LLC (the front for billionaire Vinod Khosla) and the Allen Cunha Family Trust began laying the rock a couple weeks ago.  Construction continues today despite permit conditions requiring the construction to be complete by October 3, 2013. 

Observers say that the current view of the revetment from the cabin side is a few feet above grade, but that the view from the beach back toward land is, well, a big, long pile of rocks.  Far from the scenic beachscape that visitors once flocked to.

Giant rock pile, as far as the eye can see
An application for regular Coastal Development Permit, which would seek to make this revetment permanent, is now on file with both the County and Coastal Commission.  Once the application has been deemed complete, both the County Planning Commission and the Coastal Commission will consider whether or not to grant a permit to the project. 

In addition to the obvious visual impacts the rocks have on beach vistas, the rocks may have an even more serious impact to the beach itself.  Hardened structures on the shoreline prevent beaches from naturally retreating, so as the sea advances, the beach between the sea and the revetment will diminish. 

What a shame it would be to gain access to the beach, only to have the beach disappear.

If you are horrified by the rock pile and want to protect Martin's Beach for future generations, CLICK HERE to send a letter to decision-makers.

"What about the cabins?", you might ask.  The unfortunate reality is that:
a) with the encroachment of the sea, the only way to protect the cabins and the beach over the mid- and long-term is to move the cabins, and
b) Khosla is highly unlikely to keep the cabins. Can you see a billionaire living in a rustic 1000 square foot cabin?  It's not out of the question, I suppose, but chances are good that Khosla has other plans in mind for his property fronting the public beach.  This revetment, although permitted to protect the existing road, is more than likely a foot in the door for Khosla to protect whatever development he intends to construct.

So, unless you just so happen to love large mounds of arranged boulders, destruction of beautiful beaches, obstructed views, and/or giving a billionaire an extra boost toward achieving his vision of a plebeian-free seascape, please consider sending a letter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Constitutional Right to Access - litigation update

An early message from a mystery writer, on the billboard fronting Martin's Beach Rd.
A ruling of sorts has been delivered on one of two lawsuits aimed at the access issue at Martin's Beach. 

The suit brought forth seeking to uphold California Constitution Article X Section 4, by Santa Cruz-based firm Redenbacher and Brown, LLP on behalf of the public a.k.a. "Friends of Martin's Beach", was dealt a preliminary blow in an oral ruling by Judge Gerald Buchwald of San Mateo County Superior Court on Oct. 28, 2013.  (Read more here)  In sum, the judge skirted addressing the merits of the constitutional provision and, instead, redirected the focus of his ruling on an 1852 federal land patent which, he found, prevents the California Constitution from applying to this and any other California lands formerly held by Mexico. 

Surfrider Foundation's Coastal Act suit remains to be heard.

What does this ruling mean for Martin's Beach, and for other beaches and lands across the state? 

Not much--yet.  The judge must still deliver a written ruling on the case, and the case is expected to be appealed. 

In the meantime, the District Attorney for San Mateo County has reconfirmed the County's position that there is insufficient evidence that visitors accessing Martin's Beach from Highway 1 via Martin's Beach Rd. are trespassing; therefore, the County will still not issue tickets to visitors. 

On a tangential note, one good thing that came out of this proceeding is that the true owner of the property adjacent to Martin's Beach, who has been hiding behind the names of Martin's Beach I and II, LLCs, is indeed billionaire Vinod Khosla

Friday, November 8, 2013

CNN Covers Martin's Beach Access Battle

Holy news coverage, Batman!  In the wake of the oral decision on the California Constitutional right to access case, involving Santa Cruz-based firm Redenbacher & Brown representing the "Friends of Martin's Beach" against the property owners of the land adjacent to Martin's Beach, there has been a notable spurt of news coverage about the access issue.  The issue has gone global! From the L.A. Times and SF Chronicle domestically, to The Register in the UK, to the Business Insider in Australia, to India West, and now to CNN. 

Check out the latest TV news coverage by CNN on our YouTube video channel, where you can also watch other videos about Martin's Beach.

Perhaps even more notable is some of the commentary following the coverage.  Certainly U.S. followers have had plenty to say about the ruling and the issue in general, but international readers are aghast that something like this--a billionaire landowner blocking public access to land and waters of the state--could be allowed to happen.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Martin's Beach 5: Battle for the Beach

We've heard it before: a picture's worth 1000 words. 

Inline image 2

By that logic, a film's worth would be exponentially greater.   

The rock stars over at The Inertia have been working for months on a documentary film about the battle to open Martin's Beach, and have sought to capture and convey the history of the beach, the beach's natural majesty, and the recent stories of those working to make the beach publicly accessible once again, all within the course of about seven minutes.  I'd say they did a pretty epic job.  The value of this film to tell the story of Martin's Beach, and of other beaches that have been suddenly closed to the public, is immense.

The value of an open beach to current and future generations of beach goers?  The ability to enjoy sun (or fog), sand, waves, fresh air, fishing, reliving old memories or making new ones?  Arguably, it's priceless.

What's the value of an open beach to you?
Click here to donate your money. 
Click here to lend your voice or donate your time.  

Check out the film here. 

Special thanks to Jonathan Bremer, Kyle Foley, Austin Murison,  Tyler Schmid, and David Pringle for putting it on the line for the rest of us, and to The Inertia for sharing their story.