Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla is fighting a 50-year-old law in a bid to keep surfers off of his beachfront property.
Khosla wants to block the public from entering his 53-acre plot in Martin’s Beach, 33 miles south of San Francisco. However, current Californian law states that the general public must be given access to all of the state’s shorelines, regardless of personal property laws.
Martin’s Beach is popular among surfers and Khosla was warned before purchasing the property that he would have to keep it open to the public.
However, soon after purchasing the property, Khosla locked the access gate, prompting a lengthy court case that has now made its way to the highest federal court in the United States.
However, Khosla has now turned to the Supreme Court. Armed with 151 pages of documents, the tech billionaire will argue that the ruling breaches his personal property rights.
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What was said:
Following the 2014 ruling which went against Khosla, his lawyer Dori Yob said:
“We will continue to seek protection of the constitutional rights of private property owners that are guaranteed by the US and California Constitutions and that have long been upheld by the United States and California Supreme Courts.”
Khosla’s supporting documents will argue that the case is a “textbook physical invasion of private property”.
Mark Massara, a lawyer fighting against Khosla, has stated that accepting Khosla’s demands would be “frankly catastrophic” for Californians.
Why it matters:
Khosla will be pitting the US Code’s personal property laws against California’s 1976 Coastal Act.
Should the Supreme Court rule in Khosla’s favour, it would set a precedent. This would potentially allow California’s other wealthy beachside property owners to follow suit.
There is an ongoing battle between property owners and beachgoers. Should the court decide property laws overrule coastal laws, Californians could lose access to vast swathes of beach.
Khosla paid $32.5 million to purchase the plot back in 2008. He doesn’t currently live at Martins Beach. However, he previously stated that he is fighting the case as a matter of principle.
Khosla’s net worth is estimated at $2.4 billion according to Forbes.
The Silicon Valley billionaire made his fortune as the cofounder of computer hardware firm Sun Microsystems, once a big player in the computer market.
Khosla now runs Khosla Ventures, an investment firm focusing on experimental tech.