What was once public land to the surfer community of Half Moon Bay (a beach-based community right outside of San Francisco) became private property when Vinod Khosla bought his $32.5M property on the land that surfers used to get to the public beach. Now, five years later, Khosla is willing to reopen the beach that served as a passageway for so many locals. The catch? He wants $30M to do so.
Vinod Khosla is co-founder of tech powerhouse Sun Microsystems Inc. and is known for being a strong venture capitalist (his firm is named Khosla Ventures) investing in tech startups using clean energy.
Khosla's property is built on Martin's Beach, one with cliffs and bluffs that truly embody the Northern California beach aesthetic. According to the California State Lands Commission, the beach itself has always been a place for recreational activities and community, known as a "popular destination for fishing, picnicking, surfing..."
The beach was open to the public for free during the first two years that Khosla owned the property, although there was a parking fee for those driving. Khosla then began locking his property gates and posting "no trespassing" signs. It wasn't long before the surfers and beachgoers were completely denied any access to the property.
Having done so without explicit permission, Khosla found himself served with two different lawsuits (which are both still ongoing). However, in 2014, Khosla was told by California Governor Jerry Brown that he had until the end of 2015 to come to an agreement with the government. If he failed to do so, the beach would become public land again.
Now, in a letter to the commission drafted by his lawyer, Khosla is asking for $3OM to cover the expenses for reopening the access road, including expenses for opening public bathrooms and employee salaries. It is important to note, however, that there is currently no formal analysis or appraisal that Khosla or any organization has performed that accurately support his claim of $30M.
We suppose Khosla took the old saying "Ask and you shall receive" to heart just a little too much. At least amidst the chaos of his pending court cases and decision about who has rights to the beach, he'll be able to relax tranquilly by the water, without the public pestering him.
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