Santa Cruz: The US Supreme Court has rejected a petition by a Silicon Valley billionaire seeking to keep surfers and other beachgoers from crossing his land to get to a popular northern California beach.
Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, bought the 53-acre (21.4 hectare) property in the 2008 for USD 32.5 million dollars.
Since then he has waged an unrelenting legal battle with regulators intent on enforcing state law that guarantees public access to California's 1,200 mile (2,000) kilometre Pacific coastline.
His property adjoins Martin's Beach at Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco and long a haven for surfers and strollers.
Rebuffed several times by lower courts, Khosla finally turned to the Supreme Court, but on Monday it declined to hear the case, closing off what is normally an avenue of last resort.
It was a victory for surfing associations and others who feared that a Supreme Court ruling in the case might favour rich landowners. Some landowners have gone so far as to put up gates, security guards and no trespassing signs to keep people from crossing their properties.
"The courts at every level, including now the US Supreme Court, has upheld the Coastal Act's protection of the public's rights to access the California coast," said Lisa Haage, chief of enforcement of the California Coastal Commission.
"This case reaffirms that you cannot make a unilateral decision to shut down a beach that has provided generations of families with memories," she said.
Khosla's lawyers insist their case was not about public access to the coastline but protection of property rights.
"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," Dori Yolb Kilmer, Khosla's attorney, told the Los Angeles Times.