Montara man wins $50,000 judgement after being tased by ranger in 2012 dog walking incident

As readers will remember, on the first day of the new dog walking rules being enforced on Montara Mountain in January of 2012, ranger Sarah Cavallaro tased resident Gary Hesterberg in the back during an incident stemming from walking his dogs without a leash.

Hesterberg prevailed in his suit against the park service and was awarded $50,000 yesterday by a federal judge.

SFGate has the story.

Comments { 0 }

Colbert Report on Khosla: “The indignity of sharing the world with others”

Comments { 0 }

Senator Jerry Hill’s Martins Beach bill signed into law, Khosla complains of “pandering politicians”

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.

Comments { 0 }

Coastside Fire Protection District, Board of Directors Meeting, September 24, 2014

The full agenda can be found by clicking here.

The Board of Directors of the Coastside Fire Protection District met this past Wednesday–Montara Fog videotaped the meeting on behalf on the Board.

CFPD holds the copyright to this video but desires that it be widely disseminated. Therefore, they are granting permission for its use (including use by the news media) as long as proper attribution is given. Attribution can take the form of, for example, the text “Video courtesy of CFPD” located next to the video or at a visible place within an article. That’s it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Montara Fog.

Comments { 0 }

Surfrider wins Martins Beach lawsuit, court ruling expands the reach of Coastal Act

The Surfrider Foundation has prevailed in its lawsuit against billionaire Vinod Khosla against his effort to close Martins Beach to the public.

Khosla became wealthy after helping to found Sun Microsystems and later became widely known due to his investments (as a venture capitalist) in “green” energy technologies. Those investments have not, on the whole, proved profitable.

In 2008 Vinod secretly purchased the Martins Beach property and later closed the gate leading to the beach, painted over the billboard which indicated public access, and posted “no trespassing” signs. At one point he hired security guards to keep surfers and other curious members of the public off the property.

The Surfrider brought suit against Khosla in March of 2013 claiming that Khosla should have obtained a permit required under the Coastal Act since locking the gate and the other related actions amounted to a reduction in the “intensity of use” of the public portion of the beach.

In her ruling San Mateo Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach said that barring the public indeed amounted to a change in use, despite the fact that there were no physical alterations of the land.

This appears to be a significant expansion of the definition of “intensity of use” under the Coastal Act and may set a precedent for future cases.

In a statement Khosla’s lawyers hinted that they will appeal.

The entire tentative decision (which may be expanded upon at a later date) is posted below:

View Fullscreen
Comments { 0 }

Help develop business plan for harbor, October 14

LWC_SMCHD_PPH Workshop_101414_Final

Comments { 0 }

Mike McHenry: Reform Our Troubled Harbor Commission

[Note: This letter was received from local fisherman Mike McHenry. It appears here unedited.]

I’ve been an active Half Moon Bay commercial fisherman for 56 years and a leaseholder at Pillar Point Harbor for over 30 years.

Grand Jury Report

After reading the July 2014 Grand Jury recommendation to dissolve the Harbor District, and the arrogant response by Harbor Commissioners, hopefully voters will begin to understand the difficulties commercial fishermen, leaseholders, live aboard tenants, and sports fishing interests are up against. Grand Jury volunteers perform checks and balances and this oversight function helps keep local government on track.

DA Investigation & Grenell’s Retirement

On Sept. 3, 2014 the District Attorney mailed a letter to the law firm representing the Harbor District. The letter is part of a preliminary inquiry into the California Maritime Infrastructure Bank/Authority and followed recent interviews with senior members of the Harbor Commission. At the Sept. 3rd Harbor District meeting Commissioner Jim Tucker said a DA investigator interviewed him regarding Peter Grenell’s activates as the president and chair of the bank/authority. At the same meeting Peter Grenell announced his retirement after 17.5 years with the Harbor District. His last day will be January 3, 2015.

Cautious Optimism

A thorough executive search for a highly qualified General Manager has the potential to fix the Harbor District’s management problems. To insure the best candidate is hired we must elect new Harbor Commissioners.

Commission Out of Touch

In 2012 the Harbor Commission levied the highest fish unloading fees on the West Coast. The fees are passed onto fishermen and ultimately to consumers.
For the past several years I’ve attended countless Harbor District meetings to raise awareness about the harm these fees are having on small fishing businesses and the local economy. Commissioners Jim Tucker, Will Holsinger and Robert Bernardo stubbornly insist they are entitled to a percentage of the commercial fishing fleets catch without the risks involved with going to sea. Commissioners are aware that the fees they’re imposing are inconsistent with market conditions at other commercial fishing ports. Commissioners should understand that requiring arbitrarily high fees for unloading fish at Pillar Point Harbor isn’t a sustainable approach to generating revenue.

Fiscal Mismanagement

The Harbor District recently misplaced $40,000 in tenant checks for berthing, and $30,000 in fishing fees are missing. Over the past few years members of the public have asking numerous questions about accounting irregularities. When bank records were requested management made excuses and refused to provide useful information. When the missing fishing fees were brought to light, management slapped leaseholders with an audit handled by a consultant. The consultant was uninformed about which documents were needed to preform an audit and neglecting to include a due date on requests.

Culture of Favoritism

At Pillar Point Harbor three business owners lease three fish unloading stations. Oddly, preferential treatment was granted to the fish unloading business that came up $30,000 short paying fees in 2013. The Harbormaster approved installation of a new hoist outside the designated lease area. This windfall doubled the leaseholders’ dock space yet their rent did not go up. Currently each leaseholder pays an equal amount in rent regardless of this new special arrangement. Two of the three leaseholders were never offered a chance at expansion and the District’s Harbormaster was in such a rush get the new hoist installed that he completely forgot to apply for permits from the Coastal Commission and the County Planning Department.

Shredding & Videotaping

Recently we learned that Harbor management has a bad habit of shredding documents, which the District’s own document retention policy requires, be retained. Last year Commissioner Jim Tucker argued that public access television broadcasts of board meetings was like a “fungus.” In response to Tucker’s concerns the board majority voted to discontinue meeting videos.

Poor Performance

Complaints from tenants and fishermen have grown over the past few years, and in response the board majority has taken steps to stifle public comment and move it to the end of four-hour meetings. The General Manager and the board president intentionally schedule agenda items relevant to the commercial fishing fleet for meetings held in South San Francisco and they intentionally stack agendas in Half Moon Bay with items relevant to Oyster Point Marina. They block the public’s ability to participate at every opportunity. A few weeks ago Commissioners rewarded poor performance by voting 4-1 to give the General Manager a raise and a contract extension, now we learn he’s retiring under the dark cloud of the Grand Jury Report and a DA investigation.

November 2014 Election

Incumbent candidate Jim Tucker has a new campaign website that lists his endorsements. I was surprised and disappointed to see who’s on his list of supporters. I wonder if those endorsements were made prior to the June 2014 publication of the Grand Jury report.

Please don’t vote for incumbents.

Vote for Nicole David (4 year seat) and Tom Mattusch (2 year seat) and reform our troubled Harbor Commission.

Please contact me with any questions 650-703-5498.

Michael D. McHenry
Fishing Vessel Merva W
Half Moon Bay Fishermen’s Association Leaseholder, Pillar Point Harbor
Berth Holder, Pillar Point Harbor

Comments { 4 }

Video: Senator Jerry Hill, standing outside the locked gates of Martins Beach, calls on Governor Brown to sign legislation to try to regain public access

Reader Leonard Woren attended the Martins Beach event hosted by Senator Jerry Hill on September 12 and provided this video. The event, which took place outside the locked gates was aimed at raising awareness of the efforts to regain public access to the beach and to encourage Governor Brown to sign the legislation, sponsored by Hill, which aims to push the property’s secretive owner, Vinod Khosla, to negotiate.

Comments { 0 }

Pet photos and adoption fundraiser in Half Moon Bay, September 21st


Comments { 0 }

Senator Jerry Hill to lead demonstration at Martins Beach gate, hopes governor will sign bill to help restore public access


Senator Jerry Hill, Other Elected Officials, Surfers and Environmental Groups Gather at Martins Beach Gate to Urge Governor to Sign Bill That Would Start Negotiations to Restore Public Access to the Beach Near Half Moon Bay

Governor has Until End of Month to Act on Hill’s Bill; Families Deprived of Beach Access Will Recount Fond Memories of Martins Beach That Span Generations

WHAT: State Senator Jerry Hill – joined by San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and members of the Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club – will hold a news conference outside the closed gate to Martins Beach to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign Senate Bill 968Hill’s bill would require the State Lands Commission to enter into negotiations with Silicon Valley billionaire and Martins Beach property owner Vinod Khosla for one year, in an effort to re-open the beach near Half Moon Bay to the public.

Bay Area residents will recount fond memories of family gatherings on the beach, which was closed four years ago this month after Khosla bought the property. The battle to restore public access to Martins Beach has become the focus of a nationally watched legal battle, pitting the rights of Californians to open beaches against the rights of property owners. The governor has until the end of the month to sign or veto SB 968.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 12, 2014

WHERE: 25 Martin’s Beach Road, Half Moon Bay, CA
Outside the closed gate to Martin’s Beach, south of Half Moon Bay
At the intersection of Martin’s Beach Road and Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway

Note: Martin’s Beach Road intersects Highway 1 twice. The gate is at the southern intersection of Martin’s Beach Road and Highway 1. If you’re using a GPS, plug in the address: 25 Martin’s Beach Road, Half Moon Bay, CA

BACKGROUND: If signed by the governor, SB 968 by Hill, D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties, would require the State Lands Commission to enter into negotiations with Khosla for one year, in an effort to re-open the beach near Half Moon Bay to the public.

The property was previously owned for more than a century by the Denney family, which charged visitors a small fee for access and parking at the beach. Khosla bought the property in 2008. Two years later, his property manager closed the gate to the only road leading to Martins Beach and put up a sign reading, “Beach closed, keep out.” Since then, Californians have been unable to access a beach they’ve enjoyed for generations.

SB 968 does not call for seizing the road to the beach by eminent domain. Nor does it interfere with pending court battles to bring down the gate that could take years to resolve. Instead, the legislation was crafted to provide an avenue to end the stalemate and restore public access to the beach.

It wasn’t until September 12, 2011 that the attorneys for Martins Beach LLC revealed in a letter to the Surfrider Foundation that Khosla owned the land. Until then the public didn’t know who was to blame for the beach closure.

After the gate was closed, a group of protesters known as the Martins 5 was arrested for bypassing the gate after they walked down the road to the beach and went surfing. Charges were dropped by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit to restore public access was filed by a group called the Friends of Martin’s Beach. The plaintiffs based their claim on the public trust doctrine and Article 10, Section 4, of the state constitution, which prevents property owners from excluding access to public bodies of water.

Last October, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald ruled that the constitution’s provisions do not apply to the beach because ownership of the beach was decreed by a document that predated the California constitution. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War and guaranteed that the United States would uphold the property rights of Mexican citizens, had granted 200 acres to Santa Clara Valley settler Jose Antonio Alviso, including the Martins Beach parcels. Judge Buchwald ruled that the land grant took precedence over the public trust doctrine in the state constitution.

Buchwald’s decision – which is being appealed – didn’t outlaw public access to the beach, but because the only way for the public to get there now is from the ocean, it had the same practical effect.

Meanwhile, the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection of the world’s oceans and beaches, has been pressing its own lawsuit against Khosla based primarily on the California Coastal Act

Comments { 0 }