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Surfers Stage Protest Over Blocked Access To Peninsula Beach

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Martin's Beach in San Mateo County. (CBS)

Martin’s Beach in San Mateo County. (CBS)

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HALF MOON BAY (KCBS)— A former Bay Area congressman joined surfers in a protest Thursday at a popular beach near Half Moon Bay, calling it an outrage that the landowner is blocking the only road to the public beach.

A small group of activists walked past “No Trespassing” signs at Martin’s Beach as sheriff’s deputies stood by. Former Bay Area Congressman Pete McCloskey was among the protesters.

“The issue is that the people of California have the right to go to a public beach. You can’t shut it off. This gate is wrong. It’s illegal,” said McCloskey.

McCloskey’s law firm, along with the Surfrider Foundation, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the property’s owner. The group claimed the lack of access violates the California Coastal Act.

Nearby resident Mike Wallace supports their effort. “I taught my kids how to surf out here years ago and I’d like to see them be able to get back and access the beach before they go off to college,” Wallace said.

Before taking his surfboard out to sea, surfer Joao DeMeceado said, “It’s a very [well] known spot, especially in the summer. Not only the families that go down there, but surfing, there’s a lot of reefs.”

While San Mateo Sheriff’s deputies monitored the protest, no arrests were made for trespassing.

Before the land changed hands in 2008, the previous owners charged a small fee for access.

Joan Gallo, the attorney representing the landowners, had not responded to KCBS’ request for comment as of Thursday afternoon. However, in an earlier interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the attorney for the land owner doesn’t dispute the beach is public. She said the road is the issue, which the pervious owner charged a small fee to use.

The attorney said the owner has the right to set his own terms for its use, especially considering the cost of maintaining the road, providing bathrooms and the cost of liability insurance.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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