A San Mateo Superior Court Judge has ordered Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to appear in court to testify about blocking public access to a popular surf spot.
The Sun Microsystems co-founder is being sued by the Surfrider Foundation over the closing of Martin’s Beach, just south of Half Moon Bay. At one point, there used to be a sign welcoming the public to Martin’s Beach. But after Khosla bought the land in 2008, it was painted over and the public was warned to stay out.
The county told him he needed a coastal permit to make those changes. Khosla never applied for a permit. His attorneys argued that a permit wasn't needed to paint a billboard ot close a gate that was there before Khosla bought the property.
But Peninsula attorney Joe Cotchett, who is representing Surfrider, said that there's no question that Khosla violated the state's Coastal Act.
Judge Barbara Mallach said Thursday that Khosla can't duck the supeona issued to him.
Khosla's lawyers filed a response asking the court to squash the subpeona because Khosla is a "non-party" to the action.
But Cotchett says that the operating agreement for Martin’s Beach LLC shows that the only members of the corporation are Khosla and his wife.
Cotchett told NBC Bay Area last week that he’ll ask the court to compel the Silicon Valley billionaire to testify.
"We want him on the stand to tell us why he conducted himself in such a way as to think he could close down the beach," he said. "This is not rocket science, it's really very simple."
Former Peninsula Congressman Pete McCloskey will testify that he partied on the beach in 1948 and that the state's Coastal Act provides public access to California beaches.
"It's just a special public thing that shouldn't be invaded by a guy whose wealth gives him arrogance," McCloskey said.
Khosla has been in the news recently because of a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that alleged that a Stanford University graduate was blackmailing his daughter over nude photographs he took of her while they were dating.
Khosla's daughter wasn't named in the court documents, but the Smoking Gun identified the victim as his daughter.