The California Coastal Commission is expected to vote this evening on a controversial development project by U2 guitarist The Edge and his friends to build five homes in Malibu.
The California Coastal Commission has rejected a controversial development project by U2 guitarist The Edge and his friends to build five homes in Malibu.
In an 8-4 vote, the California Coastal Commission turned down the proposal, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The commission met Thursday in Marina del Rey and held a public hearing on the five home project that would take up 156 acres overlooking Serra Canyon and include a six-thousand foot access road extending from Sweetwater Mesa Road.
The five luxury homes were presented to the commission as five distinct projects, but the commission staff determined there is "unity of ownership" and The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, and his friends might seek to sell the houses for profit rather than live in them.
Evans bought the property in 2006 for $9 million; his friends and family bought the other parcels in subsequent years.
The commission staff also decided the project is a single development since it has a single project manager and a single architect and until recently, a single agent who appeared before the commission.
The staff has made its opposition clear.
Twice it asked the full coastal commission to deny the needed permits.
"In my 38 years I have never seen a project as devastating as this one," Peter Douglas, the commission's executive director, said.
The staff members claimed approval of this project would set a precedent and invite more development in remote, rugged locations.
Designers of the project --which includes multi-level homes as large as 12,785 square feet --said the homes will have top green certifications.
The rock guitarist is promising these mansions will be the most environmentally sensitive in the world.
But local residents opposed to the project said they are concerned about possible landslides resulting from grading needed for the homes.
Opponents include the National Park Service, which maintained the development will impact sensitive habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy initially opposed the project, but it gave The Edge and his partners its blessing after they agreed to give the organization more than $1 million dollars, to dedicate nearly 100 acres for open space and to provide public access to hiking trails.
Don Schmitz, the project's planning director told the commissioners there are homes at similar elevations in the Santa Monica Mountains.
"We are flummoxed to understand why we're special," he said.
He claimed the property owners have done everything the commission staff asked them to do.
"There is nothing these property owners can do that they haven't already done."