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Billionaire’s Fight to Close Path to a California Beach Comes to a Dead End

“Whether you have to drive an hour to the coast and picnic or whether you can spend $32 million and buy property adjacent to the coast, the beach belongs to everybody,” said Eric Buescher, an attorney working on the case for the Surfrider Foundation. “The Coastal Act survives the whims of a billionaire and continues to protect the people of California.”

If the Supreme Court had heard the case and ultimately ruled in favor of Mr. Khosla, the ruling could have not only reshaped the laws that govern 1,100 miles of California shoreline but also affected public access to beaches, lakes and waterways in 22 states, according to the Surfrider Foundation.

“This case reaffirms that you cannot make a unilateral decision to shut down a beach that has provided generations of families with memories,” Lisa Haage, chief of enforcement at the California Coastal Commission, said in a statement.

For Mr. Khosla, this means the state is forcing him to keep open a money-losing business. The beach, he had argued, is not as popular as it used to be, and charging for parking no longer covers the cost of an attendant and maintenance of public facilities.

“No owner of private business should be forced to obtain a permit from the government before deciding who it wants to invite onto its property,” Mr. Khosla’s lawyer Dori Yob Kilmer said in a statement. “No business owner should be forced to obtain a permit from the government to shut down a private business, to change prices from those that existed in 1972 (as the state has demanded) or to change hours of operation.”

The Supreme Court’s action on Monday ends this peculiar saga, which has captivated Silicon Valley.

Well, it may end it. Mr. Khosla, who referred questions to Ms. Kilmer, must now apply for that permit to close the road to Martin’s Beach.

“If denied,” Ms. Kilmer said, “we will start this process over again.”


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