Friday, April 29, 2016

CA appellate court constitutional win for Martins Beach private property, but public use trial next

The Mercury News/San Mateo County/Aaron Kinney, 4/27/16. "Martins Beach: Appeals court hands Khosla win and loss."

"SAN FRANCISCO -- A state appellate court gave Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla some good news and bad news Wednesday in a lawsuit involving public access to Martins Beach, a cove near Half Moon Bay.  In a 52-page opinion, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco upheld the main element of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald's 2014 decision in Khosla's favor. The court found the public does not have the right under the California constitution to cross Khosla's property to reach the shoreline. "We view this decision as a win for our client and for all coastal property owners," said Dori Yob, one of Khosla's attorneys.

Image result for Martins Beach, San Mateo County photograph
The property owner does not own the tidal zone
Image result for Martins Beach, San Mateo County photograph
Private property, keep out
But the court also reversed a key part of the decision. That part of the dispute will return to the Hall of Justice in Redwood City for trial, according to Gary Redenbacher, the attorney for plaintiff Friends of Martins Beach. Redenbacher argued that the previous owners of Martins Beach, the Deeney family, dedicated the road leading to the beach for permanent public use by charging a parking fee, operating a convenience store, and advertising that the beach was open to the public. It's unclear when the trial will begin, but Redenbacher said he's confident he'll prevail."It's just a matter of time, as far as I'm concerned, before that road is open to the public," Redenbacher said.

The appellate panel also rejected Buchwald's unusual finding that Khosla owned the tidal zone and submerged land off the coast of Martins Beach, which Khosla bought for $32.5 million in 2008. The lawsuit is one of two seeking to restore public access to the beach. The other one, brought by the Surfrider Foundation, is also under appeal.In a separate matter, the California State Lands Commission is expected in coming months to decide whether to use eminent domain to buy access to the beach along Martins Beach Road, a private road off Highway 1."

Related, news article.  San Mateo County Journal/Bay City News/Julia Cheever, 4/28/16. "Appeals court orders Martin's Beach trial: Right of public access at Half Moon Bay property at issue." "The appeals court overturned a conclusion in which Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald said the Deeney families’ actions did not create a right of public access. But in a second part of Wednesday’s decision, the appeals court ruled against Friends of Martin’s Beach and in favor of Khosla’s companies on another issue. The court said the group could not base a claim to public access on an 1879 provision of the California Constitution that guarantees a public right of way to navigable waters along the California coast. The panel said that in the case of Martin’s Beach, the constitutional provision was preempted by the 1851 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo with Mexico, which guarantees preservation of property rights granted by Mexico before 1851. Redenbacher said he plans to appeal that part of the decision to the California Supreme Court. Dori Yob, a lawyer for Khosla’s companies, said in a statement that they view this decision as a win for Khosla and for all coastal property owners."  To be continued... for more Fix Pacifica articles, search:  Martins Beach.

Note photographs. Close Gate by John Green/Bay Area News Group from Mercury News/San Mateo County/Aaron Kenney, 5/14/15, "State of California joins Martins Beach public access lawsuit."  The Beach, one of several images from California Beaches/Martins Beach/Half Moon Bay, CA. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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