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Senate approves Martins Beach bill
June 02, 2017, 05:00 AM Daily Journal staff report

Jerry Hill

Vinod Khosla

Those eager to donate toward reopening Martins Beach are closer to having a chance after the state Senate approved legislation proposed by Sen. Jerry Hill this week.

Hill, D-San Mateo, is looking to create a special account the State Lands Commission could use should it decide to proceed with eminent domain.

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 42 was approved 27-11, and will now head to the Assembly for consideration.

The bill is a follow-up to a law Hill authored two years ago that required the SLC to negotiate with billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who bought the secluded property just south of Half Moon Bay in 2008. In the years since, Khosla has sought to deter the public from visiting the property that was once accessible for nearly a century. The case highlights the debate between the public’s right to access the California coast versus owners’ rights to control their private property. The coveted crescent-shaped beach has sparked three ongoing lawsuits, two pieces of legislation and two state agencies looking at possibly intervening.

During Wednesday’s hearing in Sacramento, Hill emphasized his legislation simply sets aside funds, and would allow the public as well as the county of San Mateo to donate should the SLC proceed. The county Board of Supervisors may consider contributing up to $1 million, while another $1 million from the SLC’s Kapiloff Fund will also be allocated. The SLC has determined a 6.4-acre easement is necessary to provide access to the property. The easement will line the existing Martins Beach Road down to the coast, a strip of beach the length of the property and space for restrooms as well as parking.

Changes to the legislation include stripping out language directly referencing eminent domain, and taking out a requirement the state contribute $360,000 from its General Fund.

Previously, negotiations stalled after the SLC offered $360,000 and Khosla’s attorneys countered it was worth more than $30 million. Late last year, the three-member SLC instructed staff to study the process, a date for the commission to reconvene and give direction has yet to be set. Should the SLC opt for condemnation, a legal process would ensue to determine the fair market value. Currently, the SLC does not have access to funds for eminent domain, an authority it has yet to levy in its nearly 78-year history as a state agency.

“It’s critical that we allow the State Lands Commission [to] carry out their important mission of safeguarding the public’s access rights to waterways and the coastline,” Hill said to his colleagues, according to a transcript of his speech. 



Tags: state, property, legislation, access, beach, eminent,

Other stories from today:

State Senate backs longshot single-payer care bill
Senate approves Martins Beach bill
Two janitors suffer minor injuries in armed robbery

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