Vinod Khosla embroiled in civil case over closed-off beach on his property

California law requires beaches be open to public.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla in the midst of a legal brouhaha because he closed down access to a beach located on his property.

Khosla’s beach-front home lies on Martin’s Beach, just about 30 miles to the west of San Jose. California law mandates that the state’s entire shoreline must be open to the public, part of the California Coastal Act and the California Coastal Zone Conservation Initiative. When Khosla bought the 89-acre property in 2010, for a sum of over $37 million, he blocked off access to the beach, infuriating the local population who had flocked to the beach under the previous resident’s ownership.

California law has a loophole that allows access roads to be cut off to the public, but Khosla took the extra step of hiring guards to ensure that no one makes it onto the beach. This is what has apparently set people off, as even the previous owner allows local denizens to enter the beach for a small fee, according to Reuters. Now, Khosla is defending his decision in court.

Khosla told Mateo County Court on Monday that he did not specifically order the beach to be completely blocked off, and had outsourced all matters dealing with the property and its security to a manager, Steven Baugher. Khosla said this person must have been the one who installed all these measures, not him.

The civil case against Khosla was brought by the Surfrider Foundation, whose attorney, Joe Cotchett, questioned Khosla repeatedly about why he bought the property in the first place and why he closed the beach down. Khosla testified that he had no intention for the beach when he bought the house, and did not go out of his way to block people out of it.

Khosla is best known as one of the original founders of Sun Microsystems in 1982. Currently, he runs Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. He is also well-known for his stance on environmental preservation, and has advocated passionately for clean energy and technology over the years.

Last year, Forbes Magazine ranked Khosla as the 352nd wealthiest individual in the US.

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