Martins Beach timeline: From Guadalupe Hidalgo to Vinod Khosla

By Aaron Kinney
Posted: 07/13/2014 04:13:22 PM PDT1

1838: The governor of Spanish Mexico provisionally grants Rancho Canada de Verde y Arroyo de la Purisima to Jose Maria Alviso. The 8,905-acre property (which translates roughly to “land of green canyons and pure streams”) includes the property now known as Martins Beach.

1840: Jose Maria Alviso conveys his interest in the rancho to his brother, Jose Antonio Alviso.

1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brings a formal end to the Mexican-American War. Mexico cedes territory to the United States including modern-day California, which becomes a state in 1850.

1851: Congress passes the California Land Act of 1851, establishing the Board of California Land Commissioners for the purpose of settling Mexican land claims.

1852: Jose Antonio Alviso files a claim for Rancho Canaada de Verde y Arroyo de la Purisima, which is confirmed by the Board of Land Commissioners and District Court of California. The United States challenges the decision.

1859: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Alviso’s claim. There is no mention in the decision of any public easement on the property.

Early 1900s: The Deeney family purchases a large a large swath of coastal property including Martins Beach.

Early 1930s: The Deeneys lease Martins Beach to the Watts family, who begin allowing visitors to drive down to the beach for a fee.

1991: The Deeneys assume control of managing Martins Beach and continue the practice of allowing people to visit, mostly during the summer, in exchange for a parking fee.

2008: The Deeneys sell Martins Beach to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who acquires two parcels of land under the names Martins Beach 1 LLC and Martins Beach 2 LLC. He pays $32.5 million for the property, which totals 89 acres. (The price of the acquisition has long been reported as $38.5 million, by this newspaper and other media. However, Martins Beach LLC property manager Steve Baugher clarified in June that the price was actually $6 million lower.)

2009: Martins Beach LLC sues San Mateo County, which had warned the new owner that it would need to preserve the coastal access provided by the Deeneys, and the California Coastal Commission. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert ruled in the county’s favor.

2010: After two years of complying with San Mateo County’s request to maintain access to the beach, Martins Beach LLC permanently locks the gate. Visitor logs show 1,044 vehicles visited Martins Beach from July 2008 to September 2009.

2012: A group called Friends of Martins Beach sues Martins Beach LLC on a various grounds, including the claim that cutting off access to the beach violated Article 10, Section 4 of the California Constitution regarding public access to navigable water.

April 2014: Judge Gerald Buchwald rules in Khosla’s favor in the Friends of Martins Beach lawsuit, finding that the federal land patent, which served as a quitclaim deed on the property, prevents the state of California from asserting a new interest in public access at Martins Beach. Friends of Martins Beach has appealed the ruling.

2013: The Surfrider Foundation sues Martins Beach LLC, claiming that blocking access to the beach required a coastal development permit, which Khosla neither sought nor obtained.

April 2014: San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald rules in favor of Khosla in the Friends of Martins Beach case, finding there is no right of public access on the property. Friends of Martins Beach is appealing the ruling.

May 2014: Khosla testifies in the Surfrider trial, saying he had no involvement in the decision to lock the gate on the road leading down to the beach.

Source: San Mateo County Superior Court records