Martins Beach is a public beach and a private gated community, about 6 miles (10 km) south of the community of Half Moon Bay and 0.7 miles (1.1 km) southwest of Lobitos, California. Lobitos means ‘otters’ in Spanish and the historical community is now a small group of private residences just east of Highway 1. Since 2008, Martins Beach has been the center of a legal dispute over public beach access.
In 1838, the governor of Spanish Mexico granted an 8,905 acre (3,604 ha) parcel of property known as Rancho Canada de Verde y Arroyo de la Purisima to Jose Maria Alviso, who subsequently conveyed that interest to his brother, Jose Antonio Alviso. In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ended the Mexican-American war and resulted in Mexico ceding a region of the southwest, including California, to the United States. The present-day Martins Beach was part of this original property and Alviso’s land patent has been handed down to private property owners over the generations.
Martins Beach was historically a popular family beach and surf spot before the adjacent property between the beach and the highway was purchased and public access was blocked. This resulted in legal challenges, popular resentment, and extensive press coverage since the California State Constitution includes a provision for public beach access. Previous owners of the land had allowed the public to park at the beach for a fee. In 2014, a legal ruling concluded that the property is not subject to aspects of the California Constitution because it was originally a land grant that predated the State, and therefore, subject to terms in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. But in 2017, an appeals court ruled that public access could not be restricted to the beach without first obtaining a permit from the California Coastal Commission. Read more here and here. Explore more of Martins Beach here: