back to article Tech billionaire Khosla loses battle over public beach again – and still grants no access

Sun cofounder and billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has lost another legal battle over his efforts to shut off public access to a California beach – but still won't be required to let people onto it until a second lawsuit concludes. On Thursday, the California Court of Appeal agreed with the San Mateo Superior Court …

EL Sol

Reminds me of El Sol which is owned by the state, since 1974, but Disney has been fighting to prevent any access being constructed.

Worth making the effort to get across to it when the tides right.

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Over my dead body!

So the guy has enough money to fund lawyers until he dies. Um, okay. So can we stipulate that when all the lawsuits fail and the public win, that he gets buried on that beach? He walked over everybody else, it seems fair play for everybody and their dog to walk over him (until global warming flushes the turd out to sea)

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Re: Over my dead body!

Great idea, except that I hope the dogs don't just walk over him, if you get my meaning.

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Re: Over my dead body!

Simples.... a small fence with a gate that's around the grave and sign "Dog must poop inside this fenced area".

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Re: Over my dead body!

He does sound like an utter total cunt

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Re: Over my dead body!

He's trying to turn back the tide. Surely that makes him a Cnut?

I suspect he's following the usual approach of 'what's the point of being rich if you still have to obey the little people's laws?'...

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Boffin

@Notas Badoff Re: Over my dead body!

It doesn't work that way.

The previous owners screwed up in letting the public have access including putting up a storefront without having given an easement to the city to allow public access.

Once an easement is granted, its very difficult to remove the easement. (Both parties have to agree.)

So that would have avoided any of this mess.

The other remedy would have been for the city to use eminent domain.

They could easily do this an force Khosla to sell at market value. (Since the city sets the property taxes, they assess the value of the property.) So had Khosla said 500K and the city 380K, the city would have bought at 500K. (The legal costs would have exceeded the difference)

In other states, when you have one property that is surrounded by another property where there is no viable access to the land, the other property owner has to grant you access.

So while the beach is public property, Khosla's property surrounds the access to the beach. So the courts should have forced Khosla to grant an easement. Since they haven't done this... I guess its not a law in California.

Khosla should have lost this by now, were it not for the political ambitions of the mayor who could have used eminent domain which the courts would have allowed.

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Re: @Notas Badoff Over my dead body!

How did the previous owner screw up? By having a storefront they didnt mind people having access. In fact they made it a business and sold the land onwards. The new owner is a douchebag with money who thinks he can do what he wants. However keeping things tied up legally shows he can do what he wants.

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Re: Over my dead body!

Maybe he doesn't want people to see his willy. or him kissing his boyfriend?

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Re: Over my dead body!

Since the Surfrider Foundation clearly has considerable funds at its disposal (they've already shelled out nearly half a million fighting him), if I were them I would set up a daily boat service from further down the coast, to Martin's Beach.

A service with one of those "party boats" which plays loud, banging music and is full of rowdy drunk people. With bars, drinks promotions and all-night parties on the beach itself.

May as well piss him off if he's insisting on tangling the matter in red tape for as long as possible.

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Re: Over my dead body!

He's trying to turn back the tide. Surely that makes him a Cnut?

Cnut was demonstrating to the sycophants, flatterers and bootlickers in his court that the king couldn't hold back the tide, something Khosla could learn from.

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@Danny, Re: @Notas Badoff Over my dead body!

The previous owner is the one who could have granted the easement. For some reason he didn't.

The owner set up a shop and allowed access, however he didn't formally allow access so that when he sold the land, there is no reason why the next owner has to allow access to the beach.

The rights the previous owner gave were not permanent. So that Khosla could close it down.

Except that he couldn't due to the other laws outside of the property law. Which is what led to the lengthy legal battle.

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Joke

Re: Over my dead body!

<quote>I suspect he's following the usual approach of 'what's the point of being rich if you still have to obey the little people's laws?'...</quote>

He must have taken a clue from Leona Helmsley.

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Re: @Notas Badoff Over my dead body!

<quote>How did the previous owner screw up?</quote>

By not making that access a matter of public record. They granted it verbally, and allowed access while they owned the property; but their decision isn't binding upon successive owners unless it is in the public records.

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Anonymous Coward

I hope he is rewarded for his efforts

Make of that what you may.

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Political catering

If the California politicians treated this guy anywhere close to the way the treat others this would have been over before it started. The State of California has zero problems taking land (with or without buildings) away from citizens for things as meaningless as needing more parking yet this guy is given a pass.

This guy knew how the property operated before he purchased it, and continued to keep it the same until he didn't. CA should tell him the truth, which is the original zoning commission screwed the pooch by not ensuring a right of way was included, then give him some pittance that he could care less about while you change the zoning, and move on. He retains ownership but does not get to keep his ill gotten private beach.

(ill gotten "private beach," not land)

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@Fan not so Obvious Re: Political catering

Clearly you're oblivious to the law.

I suggest you actually read up on Easements and rights of way. (Google can be your friend)

Once an easement is given, its hard to remove. (It can, but in this case... it wouldn't happen.)

The prior owner would have had to file for an easement that is then part of the property title. No easement, Khosla can be the grumpy old man yelling for the kids to get off his lawn.

The city screwed up because they could have used eminent domain at any time. It has nothing to do with changing zoning laws.

The fact that the mayor wants to be governor and doesn't want to piss off the ruling elite, that is the problem.

The state of California screwed up because there apparently isn't any law that forces someone who owns the property surrounding another one to be forced to grant an easement of access to that property. This does exist in other states. Or if the law does exist, why it wasn't used by the plaintiff's lawyers.

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Anonymous Coward

GET OFF MY LAWN

Eventually he's going to run out of higher level courts and be thrown in jail. Whatever tricks he's done to separate his money from his taxes will make it easier for his money to continue working without him. He won't be as important or missed as much as he hopes.

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Re: GET OFF MY LAWN

I wish he could be thrown in jail, but the underlying premise seems to be that there's currently no law forcing him to provide access, and his only issue was not requesting a permit before altering the access to the beach. Even if all the lawsuits eventually reach finality and he is forced to open the beach, he won't go to prison. Lawsuits don't result in jail time, they're civil. He clearly has the money to handle any outcomes not in his favor.

This is how the U.S. works. The rich do whatever they want, and if you complain, they drag the issues through the court systems until the plaintiffs or they themselves are dead.

The rules don't apply if you have the money to circumvent them.

Even if this were a criminal matter, you think he wouldn't just get parole?

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Re: GET OFF MY LAWN

"he won't go to prison. Lawsuits don't result in jail time, they're civil."

Ahem in the US we have a thing called contempt of court. Even in Civil trials you can have what's called criminal contempt of court and that can get you up to a year in jail.

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Boffin

@AC Re: GET OFF MY LAWN

He won't be thrown in jail.

He's buying time.

The solution is for the city to use eminent domain. He'll use his lawyers to drag it out for as long as possible. A good lawyer and a friendly judge could short circuit that as well as the appellate courts.

Kholsa knows he can drag it out and the case could languish for years.

Khosla doesn't care about being important or missed. He's got his money and his friends.

I agree that Khosla is going to lose in the end, but he's doing this out of spite.

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Re: @AC GET OFF MY LAWN

And since this is no skin off his nose, he also doesn't care if he gets stuck with a Vexatious Litigant declaration. He can pay the other side's legal fees just as easily and knows the mayor doesn't want to tick off the VERY influential residents with a gubernatorial election coming up. The mayor can't take the most direct action while they have him by the short-and-danglies.

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Boffin

@Charles 9 Re: @AC GET OFF MY LAWN

So which comic book did you read and found the ad to send $5.00 to get a JD degree?

I suggest that you actually learn the meaning of the term vexatious litigant.

Khosla is the one being sued. He's not the person using the law to harass others. In fact he does have some law in his favor .

Being forced to pay the opposing counsel's legal fees doesn't make you a vexatious litigant.

They sued him and the legal costs could be considered in part the damages that they could claim.

(It depends on the case and type of case whether or not you can collect for your legal fees.)

Because of the ramifications by naming someone a vexatious litigant, courts loathe to use that term and find someone to be a vexatious litigant.

The closest I've seen recently is a lawyer in Chicago who got in to a massive fight with his condo association over dogs, even to the point where his wife attacked a dog walker in an elevator and claimed she attacked her. You can find it in the Chicago Tribune. And yes I know some of the people involved.

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Happy

I hope....

that the SUN sets on this case soon

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Re: I hope....

I was just going to say "boycott Sun equipment", but then i remembered we've all done that voluntarily already.

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I checked Maps and there's a harbor about 10 miles north of Martins Beach. Someone needs to fund a boat launch service to take people down to the beach and encourage the loudest, most obnoxious parties you can legally have there.

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He'll just counter with Disturbing The Peace complaints, and this time he may have a case.

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Beat them enough and they'll learn.

Wealthy landowners and companies in my area for too long were allowed to cut off public access to the riverfront, which is by law supposed to be public land and environmentally protected. Putting up illegal fencing, cutting down protected trees, building lawns and parking lots right down to the water. Every few years for the last few decades someone has decided to fight in court rather than voluntarily make amends, and gets hit with a five or six figure fine for their trouble.

Things are getting better, but it took a lot of time. River's getting cleaner and more open in many places anyway.

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And if they're masochists?

Meaning beating on them just gets them off?

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Mushroom

All you really need

Is an army surplus tank, a surf board and some suncream.

Just keep knocking that gate down every time he gets it rebuilt.

Hanker

(please substitute a "W" for the "H" above, as I dont want to upset the sear filters).

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Happy

Re: All you really need

Better option - let the California National Guard open things up permanently.

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Re: All you really need

With exercises at 2 am with bright lights and loud bangs.

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Megaphone

@Ian, close but no cigar... Re: All you really need

You trespass and you first get a ticket. Then after a while, you go to jail.

You damage the property (e.g. knocking a gate down), you can be sued and also charged and go to jail.

What you need are a couple of boats, some very large speakers and a copy of Wagner.

Remember the beach is public property. What's to stop a group of people to show up at dawn coming in to the beach playing Ride of the Valkyrie and throwing a loud party?

Khosla can call the police, but they would still have to get to the beach...

If the city is sympathetic to the beach goers.. ;-)

So what you really need is an LST or a duck.

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Re: @Ian, close but no cigar... All you really need

Even from public property, you still can't Disturb The Peace. As for the city turning a blind eye, there could be phone calls. Remember the gubernatorial election coming up.

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Facepalm

@Charles 9 ... Re: @Ian, close but no cigar... All you really need

I wasn't being totally serious.

You could do this a couple of ways legally.

1) You could get a movie permit and film on the beach a remake of a scene from 'Surf Nazis Must Die' Or something along from the scene from 'Apocalypse Now'. Why? Because Khosla doesn't surf!. Just film it and put it up on YouTube.

2) You could do it and if they ask you to turn it down, you do so. The police can't just fine you without first asking you to turn it down. Then, after being caught, you have a different group of people who weren't present the first day to host a party. And so on...

3) You could get a permit to protest. Here there's the issue of your first amendment rights and your right to assembly as long as its peaceful. (Remember the beach is public property).

So if you have a sympathetic person at City Hall, you can do it. Even still... have a BLM protest... (Beach Lives Matter)

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Arsehole

What an arsehole. Maybe he should ask Chris Christie for help, he's into abusing the law to obtain private beach access too! http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/03/politics/chris-christie-beach/index.html

It's a weird story to me though - I live surrounded by beaches, and can't think of any beach in the UK where this could ever be an issue. People simply don't / can't own beach-side property - there's no access to block. Beaches are just "there", linked by common land

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Re: Arsehole

Not true.

The Crown owns all the land below the high-water mark, so it's only possible for anyone else to own the land above that.

There are quite a lot of private "upper beaches" in the UK.

The main difference is really the "public rights of way". There are very few UK beaches that don't have long-established public rights of way down to the high water mark.

The vast majority of those are older than the USA, and the Ramblers Assoc. fought a long legal battle a few decades aho to keep them.

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Boffin

@Jamie Jones. Re: Arsehole

I don't think you understand the issue with Chris Christie.

Because of budgets, there were no funding for the beaches so that they were closed.

The issue was that Christie being the Governor could still go out and enjoy the beach with his entourage at the taxpayer's expense while no one else could set foot on the beach.

To be clear, he was allowed to do what he did, however the optics were terrible.

That said, the budget impasse was resolved and then everyone else could use the beach. Note that not all beaches were closed, some were still open.

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Federal public lands law

There's a public law from the 1880s that said all navigable waterways and the lands next to them were public property and could not be blocked.

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Boffin

@Kev99 Re: Federal public lands law

And Khosla doesn't own the beach.

Just the property surrounding the beach.

So if you can get to the beach you can surf.

I agree that there should be a statute in California law that would force Khosla to grant access.

But there isn't.

The city could use eminent domain.

Khosla could sue if he believes that the price is too low. And he could keep it tied up in court for as long as he wants to, unless the city gets a sympathetic judge. The mayor didn't use eminent domain because he has poltiical aspirations and someone with a couple of billion dollars can buy influence to shut him down.

Note: If I have miles of coast line and the first 500 feet of shore is public land, its the 501st foot that starts the private property. Of course one person couldn't buy all that land. However if its a cove, then its possible.

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Re: @Kev99 Federal public lands law

Uh there is both state and federal law that saws he has to.

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Re: @Kev99 Federal public lands law

Screw the laws, he has enough money to keep the courts tied up for years. Plus I have friends the mayor doesn't want to piss off with a gubernatorial election coming up.

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@Kain Preacher. Re: @Kev99 Federal public lands law

I went back and looked. There are actually a couple.

Even still, there's some wiggle room that would allow Khosla to fight it and depending on the judges, he could win until the city decided on using eminent domain.

Even there. Khosla is setting himself up for a bigger headache. Imagine if the land was worth 10 million an acre. If his taxes were assessed at that rate, then he would see his taxes jump 25x his current tax rate until he appealed it.

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temporary situations are exempt from permit requirements.

Not wishing to defend the guy in any way, but on reading that I wonder if he could "temporarily" lock the gate between 5am and 10pm and have open access at all other times. He sounds nasty enough to try it.

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Happy

Re: temporary situations are exempt from permit requirements.

I'm sure the enterprising surfers would then arrange to - loudly - use it during those wee hours!

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use it during those wee hours!

With extremely bright flash lights. It's all about avoiding Sharks, right?

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Despite a fondness for the purple workstations I own, it makes me happy this walking waste of oxygen is vilified in the Register for his selfish actions.

Grabs popcorn...

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Alzheimers?

Seems that Mr. Khosla must be forgetting what Mr McNealy said:

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."

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Big Brother

Re: Alzheimers?

I think you're the one with Alzheimers.

McNealy was talking about the little people Billionaires can afford to buy privacy.

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The other guy

Gavin Newsom seems to think all he needs to get elected is funding.

Should've taken the lesson from the last presidential election that all the funding in the world doesn't help if you insist on pissing of the average voter.

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