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Martins Beach Supporters Want Billionaire Owner To Pay Over $20 Million For Closing Public Access

HALF MOON BAY (KCBS)— Supporters of an effort to reopen Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay filed briefs in a court case against the property's owner, tech-billionaire Vinod Khosla.

The Surfrider Foundation wants Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to pay upwards of $15,000 a day for every day he has closed off beach access to the public.

Martins Beach Supporters Want Billionaire Owner To Pay Hefty Fines For Closing Public Access

At a total of 1,400 days, that works out to over $20 million. When the court case resumes in mid-July, Khosla's attorneys plan to argue that their client willfully violated state and county laws by closing off the popular beach four years ago.

"We think it's a very bizarre contention that the way you comply with the law is by not complying with the law," said Surfrider attorney Eric Buescher.

He said Khosla's lawyers argued in court that they did not agree to seek a permit from the California Coastal Commission to close the beach, because they did not want to.

"That in our mind constitutes both a violation of the coastal act and a knowing and intentional violation of the coastal act," Buescher said.

Khosla's attorneys were not available for comment, but during six-day's worth of the trial so far, they said they believed there was no need to seek state or county approval to close the beach.

So far the trial has included a visit to Martins Beach by the judge and trial attorneys. The beach, a few miles south of Half Moon Bay, has been open to the public for 100 years. Khosla bought the land in 2008 and fenced it off.

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