Billionaire Defies Court's Order to Reopen Path to Martins Beach

Despite a court's order to reopen a path leading to a popular Half Moon Bay beach, a billionaire on Friday continued to the defy the demand.

The California Court of Appeal ordered Thursday that the gate leading to Martins Beach be open to the public, but the gate was still in place Friday.

Access to the coastal property south of Half Moon Bay has been the subject of a battle between the landowner, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and the state of California, along with citizens who have clamored for the billionaire to allow them access to the beach.

Thursday's decision was being touted as a huge victory for surfers and Bay Area beachgoers. But even as the legal team celebrated the win, they said they are bracing for another fight, all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The California Court of Appeal ordered Thursday Martins Beach be open to the public. Robert Handa reports.

Meanwhile, the gate to the main access road for the beach remains closed.

Christopher Manchester, the operator of the Half Moon Bay Kayak Company, expressed frustration with the gate still being up.

"It's like taking Yosemite and not letting people in and just saying, 'It's yours,' and not letting other people enjoy the beauty of the place," he said.

Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, purchased the 53-acre property for $37.5 million in 2008. Two years later, he closed the gate on the only access road to the beach, which had previously been open to the public in exchange for a parking fee.

Thursday's order affirmed the previous decision of the San Mateo County Superior Court, which ruled that the closure violated the California Coastal Act and ordered that the road reopen.

If the gate isn't reopened, Khosla could face thousands of dollars in fines per day until the situation is resolved. Khosla's legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the meantime, surfing will likely continue at the popular spot.

"I expect the surfers that wish to surf on Martins Beach will continue to do so, but right now they have the backing of the law and the courts," John Claussen of the local Surfrider Foundation group said.

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