Thursday, December 18, 2014

Khosla to Judge: I Was Given an Unfair Trial

In the latest turn of events, on Dec. 16 attorneys for Vinod Khosla filed a notice of intent to move for a new trial.  Their reason?  Well, there were several, including "irregularity in the proceedings," "improper orders of the court," "abuse of discretion by the court," and "accident or surprise."

It would be nice if it could be said that this filing was an accident or surprise, but unfortunately Khosla's efforts to skirt the rules seem to be par for the course.

Khosla's attorneys also sent a letter this week, addressed to the California Coastal Commission, in response to the Dec. 8 letter sent by Commission staff to Steven Baugher, manager of Martins Beach I and II, LLCs.  In the letter, they cop to the apparent reason that the gate is still closed to the public, despite Judge Mallach's Final Order that ordered the gate to be opened: bad weather.

In the Judge's order, she stated that the gate was to be opened to the same extent that it was at the time of purchase.  In Richard Deeney's testimony in the case, he stated that he would close the gate when there was bad weather, when there wasn't someone to take money at the gate, or when he felt like it.  So Khosla's attorneys are attempting to justify continued, uninterrupted closure of the gate based on those specific words in Mr. Deeney's testimony, despite the reality that the gate was not permanently closed for "bad weather" or any other reason when the property was owned by the Deeney family. 

A response from the court is awaited. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Judge to Khosla: "The Gate Across Martins Beach Rd Must Be Unlocked and Open" NOW

As reported on the Surfrider Foundation Coastal Blog, on Friday, December 5, San Mateo County Superior Court judge Barbara J Mallach provided clarity to her final ruling issued November 12, in which she ruled that Khosla's changes to the property--including permanently locking the gate across Martins Beach Rd--constituted development and therefore require a permit from the California Coastal Commission.  Clarification came in the form of a Final Order from the court, which amongst other things orders Khosla to open the gate and restore access to what it was when he bought the property

For those who have been wondering when the gate would be required to be reopened, the time has come.  We have arrived.  Open, Sesame!

                                                                     Photo credit: Anneliese Agren

But Khosla has yet to comply.

Following on the heels of this order, the California Coastal Commission sent its own clarifying message to Khosla, via the property manager Steven Baugher.  In case the threat of law is not motivation enough to comply, the Commission sent a seven page letter stating that the property owner is in violation of the Coastal Act for unpermitted development including but not limited to the locking of the gate to bar public access, use of security guards, pursuit of trespassing enforcement against visitors, and placement of signs to deter access, AND that these violations are subject to various fines, including a fine of up to $11,250 per day per violation and $15,000 per day per violation, respectively.  AND the Commission notes that the fines are cumulative from the notice of violation, which was sent in 2011.  Although Khosla is a billionaire, fines racking up to potentially tens of millions of dollars would probably not go unnoticed. 

In the Commission letter, the Commission gave Baugher until Dec. 22 to respond and work to resolve this violation amicably. 

Stay tuned!