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Legal Battle Begins Over Access To Martins Beach Near Half Moon Bay

HALF MOON BAY (KCBS)— Court proceedings began in Redwood City on Monday in a case that pits surfers and environmentalists against a multi-billionaire property owner who has closed off access to Martins Beach along the San Mateo Coastline.

Martin's Beach, a few miles south of Half Moon Bay, has been open to the public for 100 years and has been a popular swimming spot for nearly all that time.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla bought the land in 2008 and fenced it off.

"You just can't go down and buy a beach from the City and County of San Mateo and close the beach down," said attorney Joe Cotchett, who represents The Surfrider Foundation. Cothchett clarified that the billionaire can buy the land, but that he must grant access to the beach.

Legal Battle Over Martins Beach Begins In Redwood City Courtroom

He claimed that Khosla did not obtain a special permit from the California Coastal Commission before shutting off the beach's access.

"We hope that the court, after a trial, will order Mr. Cotchett to follow the law and go to the Coastal Commission and apply for a permit to close down the beach," Cotchett added.

He said he's confident the commission will rule the beach must remain open.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Khosla would not comment on the case.

Defense attorneys have asked that the San Mateo County Superior Court judge join them and the plantiff's attorneys in touring the 200-acre beach.

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