REDWOOD CITY -- The Surfrider Foundation and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla will begin their legal showdown Wednesday over the public's right to access Martins Beach, an idyllic strand that Khosla closed off several years ago.
The trial was expected to get underway Monday, but there were procedural delays in finding a judge to preside over the bench trial, which will last about five days. Surfrider has called on Khosla to testify, but he has indicated he will refuse.
The trial centers around Khosla's decision to lock a gate leading down to the beach from Highway 1 a few miles south of Half Moon Bay. Attorneys for Surfrider argue that act constituted development under California coastal law and required a development permit, which Khosla neither sought nor obtained.
Khosla won a key victory in October in a separate case brought by three plaintiffs, two of whom are surfers. That case focused on the public's right to access the coast under the California Constitution. Judge Gerald Buchwald ruled that, because there was no public easement on the land when the United States acquired California in the 1800s, the property is exempt from the surfers' claims. Gary Redenbacher, attorney for the plaintiffs, says he will appeal.