A prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist is now pitted against a group of angry surfers who are protesting his ownership of a California beach and his decision to keep them off the waves. In a lawsuit filed this week, the Surfrider Foundation, a coastal protection group, alleges that the owner of a beachfront property south [...]

Sunday Times 2

Indian multimillionaire at war with surfers

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A prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist is now pitted against a group of angry surfers who are protesting his ownership of a California beach and his decision to keep them off the waves.

Secret owner: Vinod Khosla is thought to be the man behind the company that bought the beach

In a lawsuit filed this week, the Surfrider Foundation, a coastal protection group, alleges that the owner of a beachfront property south of San Francisco has violated the law by closing an access road that has long been used by local surfers and fisherman to reach a spit of sand called Martin’s Beach.
While documents list the owner of the property as Martin’s Beach LLC, a person familiar with the matter says the owner is Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and a prominent venture capitalist known for investing in clean-energy technology.
‘It’s the most beautiful beach in San Mateo County,’ said Mark Massara, a lawyer for Surfrider. Massara says he surfs often at the beach and believes the law provides for access to everyone.
In California, unlike in most other states, all beaches are open to the public under the constitution.
But private landowners are not always required to allow access to the coastline across their property, and many disputes have arisen over the years – often involving wealthy beachfront homeowners.
In the case of the Martin’s Beach property, the previous owner had long allowed locals to access the beach for a fee.
But the new owner, who bought the property in 2008 and soon after installed gates on the access road and hired guards to keep people out – infuriating locals, who staged a protest at the property on Thursday.
Lawyers for Surfrider say California’s Coastal Act calls for permits around activities that change the use or intensity of use at a beach – permits Martin’s Beach LLC failed to acquire before installing the gates. Joan Gallo, a lawyer for Martin’s Beach LLC, did not respond to

Wistful: Previous owners kept up the technically private beach but did not prevent surfers from using it either

phone messages. A spokeswoman for Khosla did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Gallo told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week that she welcomed the case.
‘All we’ve wanted from the very beginning was an opportunity to have a court decide the rights and obligations of the parties.’
Khosla made his name as a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and later joined the blue-chip venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
He started Khosla Ventures in 2004, and the firm known for investing in clean-technology companies such as renewable energy company KiOR and renewable-products company Amyris.
In 2011, Khosla committed half his fortune to charity as part of the Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett.

Daily Mail, London




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