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California Governor Signs Law to Force Billionaire to Restore Beach Access

Bill signed by Jerry Brown gives Silicon Valley magnate Vinod Khosla a year to resolve standoff over popular beach before state uses eminent domain.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to force Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to allow public access through his property to a contested beach south of San Francisco. The venture capitalist and green energy investor bought the 53-acre property south of Half Moon Bay in 2008 and erected a gate across the road, preventing beachgoers and surfers from reaching popular Martin’s Beach. The standoff has become a lightning rod in the battle over beach access, spawning legislation and litigation.

Earlier this year, Brown signed legislation allowing the state Coastal Commission to levy large fines against homeowners who block shore access. Then San Mateo Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach ruled against Khosla last week in a lawsuit aimed at forcing him to reopen the road, saying he must either allow access or get a state permit to permanently close it. Khosla has not reopened the road. Legislation signed by Brown on Tuesday specifically targets Khosla and requires the state Lands Commission to negotiate with him for a year to try to resolve the issue. If no agreement is reached, the Coastal Commission would acquire all or a part of Khosla’s property by eminent domain to ensure access. An attorney for Khosla did not immediately return a call from NBC News seeking comment on the new law or the litigation.



-- Andrew Blankstein