SACRAMENTO - The bitter fight to restore public access to a popular beach south of Half Moon Bay has moved to the state Capitol.

Martin's Beach had been open to the public for a century before billionaire software mogul and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla bought the property in 2008 and blocked the access road shortly thereafter.

"We think it should be open and we think Mr. Khosla should obey the same law that everybody else does," said Rob Caughlan of the Surfrider Foundation, who came to Sacramento Friday to monitor legislation that would restore public access to the beach.

Senate Bill 968, authored by San Mateo County State Senator Jerry Hill, directs the State Lands Commission to negotiate an easement to the beach from Highway 1, or to take an easement through eminent domain should negotiations fail.

The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote Friday, which will send it to a floor vote next week.

"I'm really happy," Hill said. "The message is pretty consistent and I think it's uniformly believed that we have the right to use that beach."

The Surfrider Foundation is pursuing a parallel effort to restore public access with a lawsuit in San Mateo County that led to a field trip to the beach last week by Judge Barbara Mallach, who is hearing the case.