Forgetful venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has been blocking public access to Martin's Beach ever since he closed its only access road in 2010. But a California judge ruled Wednesday that Khosla acted illegally in doing so, forcing the Sun Microsystem's co-founder to reopen the Half Moon Bay beach.

The ruling addressed the access controversy that begun when Khosla purchased the property surrounding the beach and had a group of surfers arrested for trespassing. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Khosla, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, paid $32.5 million in 2008 for the property, which includes 45 leased cabins along the coastal cliffs. He closed the only public access gate in September 2010, citing the high cost of maintenance and liability insurance. The nonprofit Surfrider Foundation sued last year, arguing that the sandy shoreline had been open to all comers since at least 1918 and belonged to the public.

[Judge Mallach] essentially ruled that Khosla's failure to obtain a coastal development permit before blocking access to Martins Beach was illegal.

The issue is far from over: the court's decision is already being appealed by Khosla's armada of attorneys. But the surfers are satisfied, telling the Chronicle the ruling "ultimately strengthens California's beach access laws by defining what development is in the Coastal Act."

Photo: AP