(Amy Standen/KQED)

For over five years, local surfers and Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla have argued over access to Martins Beach south of Half Moon Bay. The only road to the beach runs through Khosla’s private property – and Khosla wants to keep the public out. On Monday, state senator Jerry Hill proposed legislation that would use eminent domain to ensure public access to Martins Beach. The bill would only take effect if Khosla and the California State Lands Commission cannot reach a deal within a year.

Guests:
Mark Massara, attorney for the Surfrider Foundation and former director of coastal programs for the Sierra Club
Paul Beard, property rights attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation

  • thucy

    Great topic – I’m absolutely baffled how land rights granted to specific, existing landowners and their family under Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 can apply to someone who bought the property 160 years after the treaty AND after the adoption of the Calif. constitution, AND who has no family ties to the original Californios, let alone the original property owner, Jose Maria Alviso (via 1830 Mexican land grant) or his brother Jose Antonio Alviso.

    Unless, of course, there was a large wad of cash deposited to Judge Buchwald’s Sub-Zero refrigerator. Or maybe this is the Judge’s sly method of reminding us of our tainted history – that we stole this land from the Mexicans, and subsequently went on to destroy its ecology in a manner which the Rancho lifestyle would not have permitted.

    • Guest

      . The Mexicans only controlled California for a few decades whereas native Americans had it for 15000 years.

      • thucy

        Pointing out (accurately) that our use of the land has been far more destructive than that of the Californios’ Ranchos hardly constitutes political correctness. At least no more than your accurately pointing out the less-wasteful-than-us Mexicans were not the original proprietors.

        • Guest

          I was referring to just the narrow point about Mexico’s ownership and how it’s a part if a stratum of argumentation that should be below you.

          BTW Most likely the natives were much less destructive than the Spanish or californios.

          • thucy

            Sure, but to your first point, that part of my comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. On your second point, I couldn’t agree more.

  • thucy

    I just realized that Vinod Khosla got his VC start at Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers – the place that produced the infamous Tom Perkins.
    Tom Perkins is the man who insisted in the pages of the Wall Street Journal this year that criticism of the rich was tantamount to a “progressive Kristallnacht.”
    Seriously. Did the man not understand the grotesque violence enacted by German people against their Jewish neighbors during Kristallnacht?
    Even after his old firm disavowed his unusual rant, Perkins went on national TV and insisted it was so. This is the level of sheer idiocy that rages amongst a select group of elites – welcome to Silicon Valley! Welcome to Vinod Khoslafornia!

    • bginna

      Reach much? We get it – you do not care much private property rights. Any other angles you care to cover? Would you be willing to give up part of your land for us to just walk across? Camp on?

      • thucy

        Goodness. Wherever did I wrote that I do not care about private property rights? I merely pointed out that Khosla and Perkins share a common firm, and that Perkins has recently made himself infamous.
        The California Constitution regarding publc access to beaches does not exempt SV billionaires; even Khosla knows the decision will be overturned on appeal. I would have no issue with you walking across my land if I purchased land that had already been granted a level of public access by the State of California. If Khosla did not desire public access, he should have bought property that excludes it. But… he did not.

      • Mrs. Eccentric

        “…The California Constitution regarding publc access to beaches does not exempt SV billionaires…” as put so nicely by fellow commenter thucy. Khosla may have money shooting out every orifice, still and all he needs to follow The Law like the rest of us. If he doesn’t like the law, he can go buy private property someplace else. steph

  • It’s ironic that Khosla is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, who are climate deniers, given that he’s a green energy guy.

    • Robert Thomas

      I assume you mean that it’s ironic that KQED has asked the libertarian PLF to comment. Was there a suggestion that PLF personnel have been retained by Khosla? I had not heard that. If not, the irony is somewhat diluted.

  • Guest

    Of all the arrogant, selfish techies, the VC crowd is the worst. The really seem to hate the lowly public whom they view as unfit in a Social Darwinian sense. If it were up to them the surfers would be made into Soylent Green along with aging techies. Welcome to the Silicon Valley caste system.

    • thucy

      I couldn’t agree more. Having worked in the banking sector, what most amazes me is the shamelessness of Silicon Valley “titans”. Wall Street always had a sense of humor about its ill-gotten gains – deep down they know they’re crooks. The SV magnates seem to actually believe they exist as some kind of uber-class. It’s Ayn Randisnism run amok.

      • Guest

        Oh yes and considering the 1500 or so software patents that Facebook has been granted they clearly want to take over rather than share the web. It’s like a land grab à la Vinod.

  • Another Mike

    Americans and in particular residents of the San Francisco Bay Area welcomed Mr. Khosla here, and via their hard work, creativity, and talent enabled him to amass his fortune. Now Mr. Khosla repays the favor by shutting out part of our coast to our community.

    • Robert Thomas

      AM, this really makes me a little uneasy. Don’t you hear how this would sound if you replaced “Brooklyn” for “the San Francisco Bay Area” and “Mr. Geffen’s family” for “Mr. Khosla”?

      David Geffen has accomplished many things, among them having gained the enmity of many beach-access advocates. I don’t see it has a particular association with his ethnic extraction or his particular commercial pursuit.

      Do you think Khosla’s culpability is categorically different because he is issei rather than nisei?

      • Another Mike

        I don’t see how David Geffen is relevant to this discussion.

        Oh. You edited your post after I replied.

        • Robert Thomas

          I… I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean that Geffen’s highly publicized dispute with the California Coastal Commission over beach access across his Malibu colony property doesn’t provide a relevant comparison at all? Or do you mean that the details of that dispute make it substantially different from Khosla’s?

          http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/fashion/sundaystyles/05beach.html

          • thucy

            If Geffen had done this in NorCal, I assure you Geffen’s arrogance and relative new-ness to area would be up for discussion.

          • Robert Thomas

            He certainly did what he did in California, in substantially the same legal climate and under the purview of the same Coastal Commission. With due respect to the signature capacity for moral outrage and indignation peculiar to us here in the North, there surely WAS a great deal of controversy and criticism heaped on Geffen during the years (it was years) of dispute, in local and national news organs and among the people. I don’t, however, recall having heard that this criticism was used to indict the family-oriented and animated film or music publishing industries for any associated foul deeds. Neither do I recall responsible persons invoking Geffen’s heredity as an issue in the dispute.

          • thucy

            possibly because those industries don’t kill as many jobs (in fact, they make jobs) and their overall population of workers is more diverse and less arrogant

          • Robert Thomas

            Possibly. Do you mean the way in which the steam and internal combustion engines proverbially killed the buggy whip industry? or the way DreamWorks SKG (“G” for Geffen) killed the cel-animation industry? Coworkers of mine, a recent survey I made revealed, are Indian (including my supervisor), Vietnamese, Irish, Dominican, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Israeli and Somali. And Australian – does that count? Along with a decided minority of white Western European Protestant Americans (whatever), like me. With respect to arrogance, propriety forbids claiming false innocence. But have you ever been around the entertainment industry in Southern California?

        • Robert Thomas

          AM, you write “You edited your post…”

          I think I pretty quickly edited “including gaining” to “among them having gained”, or something like that. Was there confusion? Disqus sometimes does weird things.

      • thucy

        “Do you think Khosla’s culpability is categorically different because he is issei rather than nisei?”

        ???

        Khosla is neither Issei nor Nissei

        • Robert Thomas

          I may have been culturally insensitive, having borrowed the terms for immigrants and their first, native generation offspring from the Japanese immigrant vernacular.

          • thucy

            I didn’t think you were being “culturally insensitive”, just totally clueless as to the specific meaning of those words.

          • Robert Thomas

            Am I substantially wrong in thinking that “issei” refers to those first to immigrate to a new land (from Japan) and “nisei” to refer to the children of issei? Is this understanding totally clueless?

          • thucy

            Indeed, Sir, it is totally clueless because those terms specifically refer to Japanese-Americans, not Indian-Americans.

            Japan and India, Mr. Thomas, are two totally different countries, with distinctly different languages and cultures. Those who immigrate from those countries did not decide that, because they are not Anglo, they would simply pretend to use the same terms for your sake, that henceforth all Indian-Americans, whether from Gujurat or Delhi, would simply now speak Japanese and use Japanese terms to describe one another.

          • Robert Thomas

            I have in fact recently seen these words, in print, in their transliterated-into-Roman alphabet form (that is, not in Japanese writing), used to refer to Persian American people; I believe I have also seen it used to describe the first and second generations of other immigrant groups as well, in the way that I described, at least once in the New York Times. As I say, this was perhaps insensitive and I’ll refrain if it is so. But I think it can hardly be misconstrued to be other than a usage borrowed into English from another language (like many others) without intent to offend and relatively unambiguously, at that.

          • thucy

            Wow. In the NY Times? I seriously doubt the Times’ editors would allow that. But maybe all Hell has broke loose there. Can you provide a link?

          • Robert Thomas

            I tried to find one on-line but failed. I can’t remember the not-Japanese ethnicity but recall vaguely that it was used in the context, “issei-like”, “nisei-like” and so on, or similarly. I may be misremembering – it could have been in the New York Review of Books.

            I don’t understand why this obviously metaphorical usage should be impermissible. Thinking about it, I recall a Punjabi-American coworker referring to himself as “issei” – not as an immigrant from India but to California, from his native New Jersey.

          • thucy

            So when asked to provide a link to that usage, you come up short? That’s most likely because it’s not done. Not at the NY Times, nor anywhere else. Sorry.

          • Robert Thomas

            Sorry, for what? Surely not for implying that I am a liar and/or a fool because I can’t find a URL?

            Is the word “diaspora”, early claimed by the translators of the Bible into Greek, also to be avoided when referring to other dispersed peoples?

          • Robert Thomas

            thucy, I thought more about your criticism here and admit that my argument is poor. In fact, it IS foolish to invoke such a source on mere recollection, without having some kind of verifiable citation handy, however tangential to the discussion the point may be. I am at fault.

  • Ben Rawner

    This is his property. Why is there even an argument. If people want to get to the beach take a boat.

    • Mrs. Eccentric

      “Why is there even an argument.”

      hi mr. Rawner. Look up California Coastal commission and California coastal access. Here in the Golden State, the coast is a public treasure and the public is allowed access by law. steph

    • Bob Fry

      It’s never completely your property. I can’t put an auto repair shop in my suburban garage, no court would uphold my claim to such absolute right. Only extremists would claim such principles.

    • y_p_w

      California Coastal Act of 1972.

      Coastal access is a big deal in Malibu. Even once public right of way easements have been set up (to be able to develop), some property owners have tried to physically block or close them off. Some simply put up “NO TRESPASSING” signs in areas that are legally public access. Others have set up gates or locks illegally.

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    huh. sounds likd mr. Kholsa is trying to hold beach access for ransom.

    mebbe he should’ve looked into the history of the property before he started throwing bags of cash around and whining about the hoi polloi. steph

    • Guest

      FYI in India they don’t say hoi poloi they say Untouchables.

      • thucy

        True, but as a classics gerk, I gotta appreciate Steph’s classical reference of “hoi polloi”, originally used by Pericles to praise “the many” within that early democracy.

        • Guest

          I was joking but the parallel between untouchables and Americans is stronger than I’d wish.
          Silicon Valley overtly discriminates in favor of foreign workers who then blame US citizens claiming Americans don’t want to get into tech….
          BTW I’d recommend a video on India’s democracy … Google 30c3 India.

          • thucy

            Does SV favor the foreign workers because the visa system is a moderate form of indentured servitude?

          • Guest

            I believe there are several reasons, the main one being that foreigners are willing to assist with slower more determined outsourcing of jobs. Another is that Indians and Chinese come from surveillance states and that background is relevant to what the US tech industry has been secretly up to for years…(snowden) and foreigners often don’t care about civil rights ie these migrants are hardly dissidents. The tech migrants are often family focused and do not work long hours if they’re married.

          • Mrs. Eccentric

            oh for heaven’s sake i had no idea my remark sparked such a long and varied debate! what fun!

            for the record, i just prefer the rhythm of ‘the hoi polloi’ to ‘hoi polloi’ in most circumstances. I’m also abundantly ignorant of the Greek language, so the redundancy doesn’t resonate to my ear. In English, my native (and only) tongue, these type of redundancies often rankle, for example ‘the HIV virus….’ drives me nuts.

            Happy Day All! steph

        • Robert Thomas

          But isn’t “the hoi polloi” redundant, like “the El Camino [Real]” (something I say all the time)? Maybe it was another Greek phrase I heard explained, that includes the article.

          • thucy

            I believe it would be, but because the term isn’t understood that way by most English speakers let alone most Europeans, we write “THE hoi polloi”.
            It would be sad if you tripped over the issue of the redundant article, and missed the beauty of Pericles’ great oration in which it was used. Do you need a link?

          • Robert Thomas

            As a young person, my Army Sgt. Major brother-in-law recommended Xenophon’s _Anabasis_. I found a used copy and became immersed – it’s a page-turner. However, my knowledge is thin. I found Thucydides’s text here

            http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/pericles-funeralspeech.asp

            It’s an impressive speech, and surely more admiring of The Many than was Xenophon, or Thucydides either, I think. You tell me.

          • thucy

            Ah, but we only know of Pericles’ funeral oration because of Thucydides. And it is said that Thucydides downplayed both his own and Pericles’ enthusiasm for democracy because democracy was so unpopular by the end of the Pelops. War. So whoever knows.
            I’m re-reading Kagan’s recent book “Thucydides: The Reinvention of History” – it’s a “quick and dirty” read if you want to join in. The new Bettany Hughes book about the same era is even better, but much longer.

          • Robert Thomas

            I approach the Kagen family (fils, anyway) with the same asbestos gloves as I have with Paul Johnson. I greatly admired _A History of the English People_ and _A History of Christianity_ (less so, _Modern Times_) but still found myself holding my nose and averting my eyes, every few pages.

          • thucy

            It’s Kagan, not Kagen. And you’d be wrong to dismiss Donald Kagan’s scholarship solely because of his politics, which are conservative. Donald Kagan, btw, is not the “fils”.

          • Robert Thomas

            Pardon me; “Kagan family”. I don’t dismiss scholarship.

        • pmsfo

          Hoi shutup.

          • thucy

            I love it – Hoi shaddup and Hoi (oy) gevalt!

  • Ritea Raj

    Bah – these filthy rich guys and their piddly problems — why do they have to amass, amass, amass? Enjoy the CA bounty just like the rest of us and stop your private property amassment!

  • Robert Thomas

    The “Silicon Valley Billionare” blather and invective about other principals of Kleiner Perkins and so on is childish (even though having to defend Kleiner Perkins is distasteful). When David Geffen prosecuted similar actions he may have been referred to as “media mogul” or some such, but we didn’t here silly whining about “these movie makers” or “these music producers” and so forth and assigning motive to an industry in this way. I certainly don’t recall hearing about “Ashkenazim being invited here and [their first generation offspring] repays the favor by…”

    Rich guys doing antisocial things (even rich guys not generally known for doing antisocial things) is nothing new. It’s a boring, echo chamber stretch to assign this to “Silicon Valley this” or “Silicon Valley that”.

    Maybe our industry can catch a break by mentioning Russell and Sigurd Varian’s conservation advocacy and Dorothy Varian’s Sempervirens Club and Fund work to secure Castle Rock State Park? That fund acquired 1,600 acres of Rancho del Oso at Waddell Beach and attached it to Big Basin Park, among many other such actions.

    • Another Mike

      The Varians passed away when Khosla was just starting primary school. I wish that Khosla had had some of the Varians’ communitarian spirit.

      • Robert Thomas

        I’m not suggesting that Mr. Khosla should be immune from criticism, or that wealthy people who act in such a way be immune – especially when they are unwilling to publicly confront it.

        Assigning motive or culpability to a related industry or pursuit is an invented narrative.

        • thucy

          “Assigning motive or culpability to a related industry or pursuit is an invented narrative.”

          Robert, does claiming something to be “an invented narrative” actually mean anything? How does it change the perception, based on so many anti-social and anti-democratic actions coming out of Silicon Valley, that the SV culture holds itself above the law?

          • Robert Thomas

            Perceptions are difficult to change. Unfortunately for some, perceptions may also be groundless.

            Honestly, I think your claim that there are “so many anti-social and anti-democratic actions coming out of Silicon Valley” and that “SV culture holds itself above the law” is hyperventilation.

            I applaud your loyalty to the financial-sector erstwhile colleagues you mention here elsewhere, but I recall vividly (and anecdotally) the literally shameless attitude of a patron at a lower-Manhattan bar recorded by the Planet Money folks and broadcast on an episode of _This American Life_, demanding that the peons be GRATEFUL for the acts of the brokers of credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations and perpetrators of fraudulent risk evaluations and so forth, who had recently brought alarming ruin to the nation and the world. The indignity this fellow expressed, at having himself and his fellows the least bit verbally criticized for having committed a degree of rapine that in earlier centuries would have ended at the guillotine, failed to belie the “sense of humor about ill-gotten gains” you mentioned.

          • thucy

            I hardly think my calling Wall Street knowing crooks constitutes any type of loyalty to Wall Street – and I can assure you that not a few Managing Directors from Credit Suisse to Morgan Stanley would agree.

        • Another Mike

          Mr. Khosla’s bio says that as a teenager he wanted to start a business in emulation of Intel.

          I note that neither Andy Grove nor Gordon Moore, founders of Intel, used their wealth to block access to the California coast.

          This may be in part, because Gordon Moore grew up along this same coast in Pescadero, and knew the value of unfettered access to it.

          • Robert Thomas

            I don’t know Gordon Moore’s or Andy Grove’s social history and can’t assign motives to them. But I think we agree that in general, such technology industry executives have not been especially noted for being antagonistic to the common good.

    • thucy

      Robert, I hear you, but your industry will “catch a break” when it stops enacting so many anti-social power grabs.

      • Robert Thomas

        thucy, beyond my being unsure how an “industry enacts power grabs”, antisocial or otherwise, you must admit that this is a bit of a nebulous criticism.

        • thucy

          Okay, how about SV’s complicity with the NSA? What about the SV CEO trying to wage war against public school trachers to power-grab the public school system?
          What about Vinod? What about Armstrong of AOL? Prego, Robert, even when there are legitimate and specific criticisms, you will complain it’s nebulous.

          • Robert Thomas

            Obviously, what “Silicon Valley” has done to comply with the U.S. government is murky and I’m not well informed about it. Do you mean, how Silicon Valley companies have complied with the law? Or do you mean that they have conspired, outside the law, to defraud or manipulate or molest people in conspiracy with NSA or other bureau?

            I assume you make reference to David Welch of Infinera – right? If so, without commenting on the merits of Welch’s views and advocacy, is it equally valid to assign a particular character to the pizza chain franchise industry based on the views and advocacies of Tom Monaghan? How about the character of the scrapbooking supply industry with respect to the social activities of David Green?

            I’m not familiar with Mr. Armstrong’s transgressions. He isn’t a principal in our industry.

  • Max

    Almost every property owner in CA is forced to allow the public access to cross their property — it’s called a sidewalk.

    • thucy

      Briiliant!

  • Martin’s Beach Resident

    We have two foundational documents that protect access to beaches, the California Constitution (1879) and the California Coastal Act (1972). California has a long and active history of beach access protection and there is extensive community support, both private and public. The issue of Martin’s Beach does not revolve around surfing, just because surfers benefit from beach access does not diminish the importance of upholding our Constitutional rights.

    The new legislation requires Vinod Khosla to be held to the law, just like the rest of us. Khosla and his team have failed to apply for permits, failed to follow court orders, and failed to follow law. The legislation does nothing but give Khosla and his team one year to comply with these laws and work through the permitting process with San Mateo county and the Coastal Commission. Since he was forcibly exposed as the owner earlier this year, Khosla has remained silent on this issue. Although ironically, I suspect he pays his team members to prowl articles, such as this one, to post comments using secrecy and subterfuge to forward his agenda.

    As I was there only yesterday and personally escorted news crews down to the beach, I can guarantee Martin’s remains beautiful and garbage-free, awaiting a visit from you and your family. Don’t worry, the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney are refusing to prosecute illegitimate trespassing charges! 🙂

  • Menelvagor

    NO one has the right to own the ocean. NO one. NO individual has the right to charge money to access the ocean. it is public domain. NO ocean front property int he US , in the world, has the right to exist–you f-people are not gods. Burn the house down. Its time for the people to rise. property is such a monstrous and archaic notion. The beach belongs to all Americans. now, if it is public, the public has th eright to ak for donations to help sustain the beach and its wildlife. period. It is time to change th ecapitliast laws in america–who are trying to fashion themselves as some kind of aristocracy. There is no such thing as private property rights. You might as well buy the whole continental US–oh wait that is what they are trying to do.

    Californians should go en masse to take the beach everyday.

    I DONT GIVE A FLYING F–IF HE PAID FOR IT–HE DOESN’T HAVE THAT RIGHT!
    OFF WITH THEIR-FHEADS.

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