Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law empowering the California Coastal Commission to fine property owners who illegally block beach access to the public.

The commission has been without the authority to levy fines since its creation in 1976. 

The commission's new powers come amid a legal tussle between Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla and environmentalists.

Khosla has apparently closed public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County.

A judge is deciding whether Khosla, who owns oceanfront property, is allowed to close an access road to the beach.