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Surfers fight for access to beaches

'Martin’s 5: Battle for the Beach' goes to the frontlines of the legal battle between property owners and surfers for beach access

Photo by Jim Patterson

Photo by Jim Patterson

There’s only one road in and out of Martin’s Beach on the California coast, and right now, it’s blocked by a heavy gate marked “No Trespassing.” Surfers Austin Murison, David Pringle, Jonathan Bremer, Kyle Foley, and Tyler Schmid had already hopped the blockade and were in the water when two police cars rolled onto the gravel by the beach. “I thought about paddling away actually,” quips Murison. Instead, the five surfers plunged headfirst into what will almost assuredly be a decade-long battle for legal beach access at Martin’s Beach, and a new film profiling their fight.

Presented by The Inertia, “Martin’s 5: Battle for the Beach” explores the Surfrider Foundation’s battle to keep American beaches open to the public through the “lens of a monumental court case” stemming from the trespassing charges brought against the five surfers in Mateo County.

The 8-minute film by Richard Yelland features interviews with the “Martin Five,” the Surfrider Foundation’s San Mateo County Chapter activists, and defense attorneys well versed in the legality of the issue—according to the California Coastal Act, landowners can’t use their property rights to restrict people from using navigable waterways (we wrote about the issue before concerning a New York waterway), which is likely why the charges brought against Murison, Pringle, Bremer, Foley, and Schmid were dropped. It’s also why the Surfrider Foundation is suing the property owner under the Coastal Act in an effort to make Martin’s Beach, and beaches all over the country, accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy them—but the final ruling could take up to 10 years. Until then, watch the film and lend your support at