Greed and bullying

Eight years ago, Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla spent $32.5 million on an 89-acre property with prime beachfront in San Mateo County. Khosla then proceeded to padlock the gate that leads to the beach. His goal: to keep the public off his sand. The only problem: California law guarantees public access to California beachfront. Khosla’s padlocking went to court. In 2014, a county judge ruled against him. Then a state appeals court ruled against him. This past October, the California Supreme Court declined to hear Khosla’s appeal to that ruling.

Last week, the Sun Microsystems billionaire asked the U.S. Supreme Court — in a 151-page petition — to bless his padlock. Khosla will clearly “do anything,” says California state senator Jerry Hill, to “deny other people their right to enjoy the coast in California. (

Come back, Sans Culottes and the guillotine! How dare he?

When I briefly worked in San Francisco, back in the early 1960s, I remember walking along the beach in San Mateo, cold and foggy though it was. Being British it never occurred to me that people could own beaches down to the water-line. It’s unheard of in Western Europe, as far as I know. What is the waterline? The high tide line, the low tide line? Can walkers walk through the water itself without being shooed away? You can see that such silliness is a lawyer’s delight. Walking along a sandy beach looking out at the ocean for whales and seals is an Epicurean pleasure, and should be available to all.

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