Led by former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, a group of surfers and proponents of open access to a beach near Half Moon Bay passed through a gate and marched down a privately owned road to the beach Thursday.
A group of about 10 busted through the gate that was erected in 2010 and is covered in restrictive signs after the property was sold to a private owner in 2008, and made their way to Martin's Beach, just off of state Highway 1, a few miles south of Half Moon Bay.
San Mateo County sheriff's vehicles monitoring the beach and access roads allowed the group to walk towards the beach where competitive surfer Joao DeMeceado took on the waves.
"The public has the right to do that," McCloskey said as he pointed to DeMeceado catching a wave.
No arrests were made.
The group met at the beach in support of a lawsuit filed against Martin's Beach 1 and 2, LLC, on Tuesday by the Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation.
The lawsuit claims that owners failed to obtain a coastal development permit for the new gates and restrictive signs that prevent the pubic from accessing Martin's Beach Road, in direct violation of the California Coastal Act.
Court records from a separate beach access suit filed last October in San Mateo County Superior Court name venture capitalist Vinod Khosla - one of the founders of Sun Microsystems - as the presumed primary owner of Martin's Beach. Joan Gallo, the attorney for Martin's Beach LLC, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Mike Wallace, a longtime surfer and competitive surf coach from Moss Beach, said Martin's Beach, "should be open until proven otherwise."
McCloskey, 85, whose district included San Mateo County when he served in Congress in the 1970s and 80s, recalled coming to the beach in past decades when public access was unrestricted and cars could park further down the road.
Wallace said the restriction of the beach, which is known in the surf community for its consistent swells that break over underwater reefs, will affect future surfers and coastal enthusiasts.
"The next generation doesn't get to experience what we've experienced," he said.