Armoring of Martin’s Beach

The owner of Martin’s Beach, who has been hiding under Martin’s Beach I and II, LLCs, was recently discovered to be billionaire Vinod Khosla.  Khosla is the Founder of Khosla Ventures and co-founder of Sun Microsystems.  While he isn’t hiding anymore, he is still causing a headache for those of us working to restore access to the beach and protect it from environmental damage.

Earlier this year, Khosla applied for and was granted a permit to build an “emergency” rip rap (large boulders used as a kind of seawall) along the beach. This armoring of the coast destroys beaches as rip raps prevent them from having space to retreat naturally, thereby causing severe erosion of the sand.

The rip rap, which is just now being completed, is claimed to be needed for the purpose of protecting the row of small cabins located along the sandy shore.  However, once the leases on these cabins are up, it is likely that they will not be renewed.  Our guess is that the real reason for the rip rap is to protect whatever future development Khosla is planning.

The emergency permit for the rip rap expires in July, 2014.  In order to obtain a regular permit and keep the rip rap beyond this time frame, Khosla was supposed to file an application by September 30, 2013. While he did submit an application, it was incomplete and has not been accepted by the County.  Khosla now has until December 13, 2013 to submit the full application if he would like to apply to keep the rip rap beyond July, 2014.

In litigation news:

On October 28, 2013 a ruling was issued on one of the two lawsuits involving Martin’s Beach, the suit brought by Redenbacher and Brown, LLP on behalf of the “Friends of Martin’s Beach.”   In this case a San Mateo County Superior Court judge took an unusual approach and sited an 1852 federal land patent, which states that the California Constitution does not apply to lands formerly held by Mexico.  We are still waiting for a written ruling by the judge. The case will most likely be appealed.

The Surfrider suit is still waiting to be heard.

We are following all of these issues around Martin’s Beach closely, and doing our part to advocate for continued public access to the beach and the removal of the beach destroying seawall.

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