SACRAMENTO (KCBS) — A bill that would restore public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County has cleared one of the last major obstacles in Sacramento on Thursday despite the property owner’s efforts to lobby against the legislation.
Authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo),SB 968, which asks the California State Lands Commission to use eminent domain to purchase access to the popular surfing spot, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a slim party-line vote is will now move to the full Assembly floor next week.
Meanwhile Hill told KCBS that the California Coastal Commission has also launched its own investigation into public access for the isolated cove, south of Half Moon Bay.
“I think what the Coastal Commission is trying to establish the fact that for over one hundred years that beach has been open; access has been open to the beach and has been used publicly by everyone and that to establish that case—that precedent—to open the beach in the future,” Hill said.
The previous owners of the property allowed the public to cross their private land and visit Martins Beach for a fee but access was discontinued in 2010 after the property manager for venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who purchased the land in 2008, locked the gates to the only road from Highway 1 that leads to the sandy beach.
Khosla is lobbying hard against the bill while also fighting two lawsuits seeking to restore public access.
According the San Jose Mercury News, Khosla hired influential lobbyist Rusty Areias of California Strategies to battle SB 968 and has succeeded in weakening the bill—the original version would have required, not asked, the State Lands Commission to use eminent domain.