California is taking steps to seize control of private land leading to a pristine stretch of secluded beach property south of Half Moon Bay, with the hope of restoring public access.
Martins Beach in San Mateo County was closed to the public after tech billionaire Vinod Khosla purchased nearly 90 acres of beachfront property in 2008. The venture capitalist locked the gated entry to the beach, posted “do not enter signs” and hired security guards to keep people out.
In lawsuits, he argues the beach is private property. But a bill from state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would allow the State Lands Commission to direct $1 million into a new fund set up solely for the Martins Beach land acquisition, and possibly use eminent domain to take control of 6.4 acres sought to guarantee public access.
At present, the commission cannot use public funds for eminent domain. Hill’s bill would change that, and allow public, private and nonprofit donations to be deposited into the new account.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The acreage includes a road that winds from Highway 1 down to Martins Beach, and part of the beach itself. The state said it’s worth $360,000, but Khosla wants $30 million for the easement, according to analysis from Hill’s office on Senate Bill 42. The commission in December directed its staff to research how to use eminent domain to secure the property.
“We are resolved to provide public access to this public resource,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, chairman of the commission, said at the time. “We are aggressively moving in that direction.”
Previously, the public had access to the beach for nearly a century. Khosla in September sued the State Lands Commission, the California Coastal Commission and San Mateo County. He argues that the government is harassing him and trying to force him to surrender his private property rights in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Other lawsuits against Khosla’s business holding company have been brought by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which is also trying to restore public access to the beach.
“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 before the bill passed the Senate floor. It’s now in the Assembly. A Natural Resources committee hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. in room 447 of the Capitol.
Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning run-down on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up for it here.
WORTH REPEATING: “I can also imagine the joys your classmates had when they punched you in the face.” – Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, talking about Republicans while debating a bill to help him fight a recall election the GOP initiated.
LAWMAKERS’ PAY: Gov. Jerry Brown has filled two needed positions on the California Citizens Compensation Compensation Commission, allowing it to raise the paychecks of state legislators, the governor and other statewide constitutional officers.
Thomas Dalzell of Berkeley, a business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was re-appointed after finishing his previous term last year. Also appointed was Margaret Wong of Sacramento, president and CEO of Golden California Inc., an international business marketing company.
Dalzell said salaries are still below 2007 levels, and noted that the commission, which meets annually to set officials’ pay, has approved gradual increases in recent years. “It would not surprise me if there were continued incremental adjustments,” he said Friday.
SANCTUARY STATE: State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León today is expected to tout support from law enforcement for his Senate Bill 54, which would make all of California a so-called “sanctuary state.” A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Los Angeles.
Former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, Capt. James Beezley of the Sacramento Police Department and others, are expected to join De León.
“It’s not the job of our local and county and state law enforcement to turn the cogs of President Trump’s deportation machine,” de León said at a previous news conference on the bill.
COMMUNITY CLINIC HELP: Small and rural nonprofit health care clinics, including Planned Parenthood, could benefit from state assistance under a $20 million deal reached last week in state budget negotiations.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, sought additional state health care funding to stem potential losses from the federal government. A press conference is set for 11 a.m. Monday to announce the deal. Mitchell will be joined by Treasurer John Chiang, other legislators and health care advocates.
FLOOD RELIEF: Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, today will announce approval of $5.4 million in the state budget to help those affected by late February flooding in San Jose caused by heavy rains. Coyote Creek and the Anderson Reservoir overflowed, and neighborhoods were submerged, thousands were evacuated and more than 1,000 were displaced from their homes.
Kalra and other members of San Jose’s legislative delegation – Sens. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose – requested relief assistance last month.
Funding will provide rental subsidies, transportation assistance and relocation help to those affected. The press conference is at 9 a.m. at Rock Springs Park in San Jose. The city’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, will also be there.
INTERNET PRIVACY: Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Arcadia, wants to give people more control over privacy online. He proposed Assembly Bill 375 in response to the Trump administration repeal of Federal Communications Commission rules that sought to give internet customers more control over personal information.
Chau and privacy rights advocates will discuss the legislation at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol.
PRIDE MONTH: The Legislature’s LGBT Caucus celebrates Gay Pride month by honoring 10 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people for showing leadership in advancing equal rights. The Senate and Assembly will introduce resolutions promoting equality and urging Californians to participate in festivities this month to advance the cause.
MUST READ: In case you missed it, Bee reporter Taryn Luna breaks down what you can and can’t do under California’s marijuana laws.
CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, who turns 38 today.
Angela Hart: 916-326-5528, @ahartreports