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Governor Brown Signs Public Access Law for Martin's Beach

Governor Jerry Brown today signed Senate Bill 968, authored by Senator Jerry Hill, to address the closure of public access to Martin’s Beach in unincorporated San Mateo County.

Diverse allies including The City Project supported the measure and other efforts in and out of court to keep Martin’s Beach open for all.

A state court ordered the Silicon Valley billionaire owner to reopen the road to the beach last week.

Martin’s Beach is a coastal gem hidden away south of Half Moon Bay. Visited by local families and vacationers for generations going back a century, the broad sandy beach has offered beach goers a scenic escape, a place to recreate with family and friends, and, for some, a home away from home. The nearshore waters were frequented for swimming and surfing, but many particularly recall the tradition of catching smelt by casting nets from onshore. A unique exposed rock formation—known to some as the Shark’s Tooth and others as Pelican Rock—juts out from blue waters at the northern end of the beach and serves as the icon of this special place that many once visited.

The new law outlines a process and timeframe for restoring public access to Martin’s Beach. It identifies the State Lands Commission as the acting body. The Commission would be tasked with consulting and, if needed, entering into negotiations with, a private property owner to purchase a portion of the property to facilitate public access to the Beach. If that purchase cannot be negotiated nor access voluntarily provided, the law demonstrates support for the State Lands Commission to pursue other means to acquire a right of way or easement, as provided under its existing authority.

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Click here to download the letter from diverse allies in support of public access to Martin’s Beach.

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The City Project has long advocated to Free the Beach! See:

Robert García and Erica Flores Baltodano, Free the Beach! Public Access, Equal Justice, and the California Coast, 2 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 143 (2005)

Saving the Native American Sacred Site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach, The Acjachemen Victory, L.A. Times Editorial, December 27, 2008

Bali Hoi Polloi: Public Gains Entry at Geffen’s Beachhead, Washington Post, May 26, 2005

Celebrating the African American Resort at Bruce’s Beach 2007

Keeping Historic Altadena trails free for all, Los Angeles County v La Viña Homeowners Association 2009

Keeping Historic Canyonback Trails Free for All 2006.