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Property manager says he blocked beach access

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) -- A property manager said Tuesday that he blocked public access to a once-popular Northern California beach and he didn't discuss the decision with the billionaire technology mogul who employs him.

Steven Baugher, who was hired by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla to manage Martins Beach, testified in San Mateo County Superior Court that he consulted with his legal team in 2010 before closing a gate and halting public access to the beach in order to keep trespassers off the property. But Baugher said he never talked to Khosla, who bought the property in 2008 for $37.5 million.

Baugher added that he had been told by the county that he would need a coastal development permit, but he said he “didn't fully understand the order,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The testimony came during the civil trial to determine whether Khosla violated the California Coastal Act.

On Monday, Khosla testified that he didn't remember seeing certain documents, including one from a judge saying he would need approval to close off access to the beach, which can now only be reached from the ocean.

“I get 500 to 1,000 pages of documents a week. I'm not trying to be unreasonable, that is what my life is like,” Khosla testified, according to KTVU-TV.

The beach is near Half Moon Bay, about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

“I was dumbfounded at the lack of ability to explain or remember,” the plaintiff attorney Joe Cotchett told KTVU in response to Khosla's testimony.

Under state law, the entire coast is public property, including beaches below the mean high tide.

Khosla's attorney, Jeffrey Essner, says the public was previously allowed to access the beach for a fee, so there was never a right of public access.

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