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State agency drops opposition to U2 guitarist's Malibu project in exchange for $1 million, services


The state planning agency that oversees open space in the Santa Monica Mountains will drop its opposition to a controversial bid by U2 guitarist The Edge to build a compound of homes above Malibu in exchange for more than $1 million in funding, consulting services and trail easements from the musician and his partners.

Click to read the document In a deal with the Irish rocker narrowly approved this week, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy agreed to take a neutral position on the high-profile project in exchange for a $750,000 payment, $250,000 worth of work by a consultant who works for the musician, conservation easements and development restrictions around the homes that would eventually allow a short length of trail to be built through a sliver of the property.

DOCUMENT: Read the agreement

The Edge -- a.k.a. David Evans -- has been fighting for permits to build five mansions, including his own, on Sweetwater Mesa since 2006, when he and his wife bought the 156-acre property.

U2's guitarist "The Edge"

But the project has been stymied by widespread opposition from conservation groups and the California Coastal Commission, who say it would scar an undeveloped ridgeline visible from much of the Malibu coastline and disturb geological features and sensitive habitat.

In 2009 the conservancy wrote a letter to the coastal commission strongly opposing the project, saying it was inconsistent with the state Coastal Act and would be impossible to build without “unavoidable significant adverse visual and ecological impacts.”

According to the agreement approved Monday in a 3-2 vote by its board, the conservancy does not have to rescind the 2009 letter, but going forward could not speak out against the project.

The agency will not receive its money and other benefits unless the project gets final approval and survives any appeals or legal challenges. The conservancy is also obligated to pass a resolution, write and speak in favor of the deal and may not oppose the development of three other homes proposed for nearby Carbon Mesa.

Click for larger map Critics characterized the deal as Evans buying the agency’s silence.

"This would break up a large block of almost pristine wildlife habitat—one of the most impressive coastal-mountain interfaces in the country,” said David Brown, a Sierra Club leader who sits on the conservancy’s advisory board. “And though you're not really endorsing the project, you're withdrawing your objections to it, and it's not acceptable.”

Supporters of the deal said they did not believe the conservancy’s change in position would necessarily sway the coastal commission to support the project. But if the homes were approved, the area would gain open space it would not otherwise have as well as key segments of the long-sought Coastal Slope Trail.


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-- Tony Barboza

Top photo: A Malibu resident takes in the view from the property owned by U2 guitarist David Evans, a.k.a. The Edge in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times / April 9, 2009

Photo: The Edge. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (76)

So, conservationists will basically "pimp" mother earth if the price is right? How is that not just extortion? Does this mean if oil companies pay the RIGHT people the RIGHT price then all the environmental protests against development just goes away?

Link not working for the map blow-up.

This is such blatant bribery.

U2 = Fake do gooders.

They worry about poverty while feasting on natural resources.

Wow, the U2 gets to rape a virgin mountain top in exchange for $1 Million bucks. Must be nice to be rich.

What a SELL OUT!!! I have lost all respect for The Edge and Joe.

See, even rich Communists can buy off a government agency every so often.

Someone once said "By their works ye shall know them." For all who believed U2 was all about environmentalism and working towards the betterment of mankind, observe the actions of this shallow, selfish individual. He doesn't care what impact his FIVE mansions will have on the environment. He cares about having the Biggest Castle In The Kingdom. This is all about Dave, Dave, Dave.

Like the old punch line: We know they're prostitutes. Now we're just settling on a price.

Ever since the SMMC was founded it has been run like a fiefdom by Big Joe. This is proof positive that a little 'money' can buy him off.

How disgusting!

Yes, Virginia, with enough money, you can do anything you want.

Shocker. They're all posers.

So I guess the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy doesn't really care about the enviroment as long as they can get a really big payment. Isn't this called bribery?

Joe Edminston is such a sell out! Does it get an more blatant than this?

Unlike the LAT (and internet commenters), Edge and U2 actually make something that people want to buy. He wants to live in a nice place, somewhere most of us in Los Angeles will never see or drive by. He owns it. He is building 5 houses on 156 acres. By contrast, the average home plot in LA is 5,000 square feet, about 8 houses per acre or 1,248 houses that would fit on Edge's land.

The truth hurts.

Let me get this right, a private landowner who owns a legally developable lot is making an offer to the community access to his land, preserving the majority of it as open space and building an environmentally sensitive home, but people are jumping on him for it...that's not right. These property owners should be applauded for their efforts to develop in a manner that respects and protects the environment.

only one million? such a deal!

He and his wife bought the property? Yeah, right! What does his wife do to contribute cash to the purchase of the property?

Silly guy thought he bought the property. What he didn't know is all those people who want to tell OTHER people what they can do with private property.
If you want to keep property open space, just buy it.

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy just wanted to be paid off.

Don't condemn Bono because of another guy he happens to be in a band with. The Edge is only one member of the group. Let's make a distinction between the Edge and Bono. Bono is the one doing all the good work. I never see the Edge in any of those photos in Africa or Haiti. Bono does his work on behalf of himself not the band.

This is laughable; these fools sell out and only get a million bucks. Mr Edge has so much money these poseur-environmentalists could have easily held out for 10 million.

In defense of Edge, his team worked very hard to build the most non-obtrusive of settlements, that is, the homes are designed to blend into habitat, with green measures employed wherever possible and to the greatest extent. They say "mansions", but these - from what I have seen - are almost anti-mansions in look and profile.

On the other hand, as what point do We, the People, tell rich folks that they cannot buy our collective natural beauty for their personal use, at any price?

This is gross. I can't believe I took my kids to see the 2001 Elevation Tour at the Staples Center after the world shocker of 9/11, believing U2 was a positive force in the universe. Made a banner for them and even mailed it to Ireland. I believed in their message, but a bigger sap could not have be facing me in the mirror!!!

Wow, I used to love U2. What a hypocrite! I am not sure who is the most reprehensible the selfish rock star or the spineless "conservancy". I guess everything has a price. Too bad the enjoyment of many people who appreciate a pristine environment and local habitat has been sold to the highest bidder.. Heck maybe they should have put it on Ebay, I am sure Mick Jagger could have come up with $2mil.

Be surprised if this passes CEQA.

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