California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Senator Hill’s bill which would seek negotiations with secretive Martins Beach owner over public access.
The bill as originally worded would have compelled the State Lands Commission to exercise its power of eminent domain on the road leading to the beach should negotiations fail to produce that same result. In its final form the Commission still has the option to seize the land but is not required to do so. The State Lands Commission has never exercised its eminent domain power in its past. The Commission is made up of three California officials: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Controller John Chiang, and Finance Director Michael Cohen.
Billionaire Vinod Khosla spent heavily to fight the bill, assembling a team of Sacramento lobbyists led by well-connected former Assemblyman Rusty Areinas.
As quoted in the San Mateo County Times article by Aaron Kinney, Areias dismissed the bill suggesting it had been effectively neutered by his efforts.
The bill is a remnant of what it was originally,” Areias said of the law, which in its initial form would have required, rather than sought, the commission’s use of eminent domain. “Basically it mandates a conversation. We don’t need a bill to have a conversation.
The official press release from Martins Beach LLC complains of “pandering politicians” who want the land but don’t want to pay for it.
One week ago Khosla lost a closely watched lawsuit brought by the Surfrider Foundation which also sought the reopening of public access to the beach. Prior to the Surfrider lawsuit, which was brought last year, Khosla’s identity as the buyer of Martins Beach was a closely guarded secret. He has not appeared in public regarding Martin’s Beach nor has he entered into any sort of conversation with the public regarding the property, except in the courtroom under oath and via press releases put out by his legal team.
It is expected that Khosla will appeal the Surfrider decision.