A Victory for Martin’s Beach

Advocate Lennie Roberts and former Congressman Pete McCloskey in a celebratory moment at a press conference on Martins Beach.

We’ve written many times before about the saga of Martin’s Beach and billionaire Vinod Khosla’s attempt to close off access to this iconic beach.   We’ve asked you to write letters to the governor and the State Lands Commission, we’ve held informational sessions (and picnics!) at the beach itself, and it’s consistently been one of the most popular issues we’ve engaged with.  Having virtually exhausted his legal options in California, after a denial in the highest state court that resulted in an injunction to open the beach to the public, Khosla took his case to the federal level with an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case, ending a long phase of this particular legal battle over access to the California Coast.  The ramifications of such a case, if heard by the Supreme Court, could have been truly enormous, possibly endangering the legitimacy and power of California’s Coastal Act.  The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Khosla’s case was covered by media as varied as the New York Times (which noted that “the ruling could have not only reshaped the laws that govern 1,100 miles of California shoreline but also affected public access to beaches, lakes and waterways in 22 states”) and Surfer Magazine (which noted that “Monday, SCOTUS said ‘nah'”).

After so many years of contention, we are overjoyed that the Coastal Act’s integrity has been preserved and that billionaires can’t simply close off historic public access.  A huge thank you to the sterling team of attorneys at Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, for their pro-bono representation of Surfrider Foundation on behalf of the public, and three cheers for everyone who spoke in favor of public access and shared their own stories of gatherings there with family and friends, some over three generations.  While the story of Martin’s Beach may not be ended, as Khosla could take legal action against the Coastal Commission, a significant battle has been won. At Committee for Green Foothills we know that “the coast is never saved, it’s always being saved” as Peter Douglas, former Executive Director of the Coastal Commission famously said. We hope you’ll join us so that we can continue our work to protect the San Mateo coast for the benefit of all.

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