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Steve Lopez: U2's The Edge says he's an environmentalist, but he still wants to pave over paradise

June 17, 2011 |  9:37 am


Steve LopezYou can bet the mortgage, in fact you can bet the mortgages on five mansions, that U2's David Evans is going to sue the California Coastal Commission.

On Thursday, the commission smashed up Evans' plans to foul an undeveloped ridge near Malibu with a five-house compound. But Evans, a.k.a. The Edge,  is not a man whose guitar gently weeps. No matter how many times he's called a hypocrite, he just keeps bullying foes, determined to have his way.

I thought the Coastal Commission's executive director, Peter Douglas, called it perfectly Thursday:

"In 38 years of this commission's existence, this is one of the three worst projects that I've seen in terms of environmental devastation," Douglas said. "It's a contradiction in terms -– you can't be serious about being an environmentalist and pick this location."

You can if you're a celebrity rock-and-roller with lobbyists, attorneys, architects and flacks telling people you are, in fact, an environmentalist.

Sure, the project is green. But it's in the wrong place.

The Sierra Club, the coastal commission staff and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy have all pointed out that the environmental impact will be devastating and open the way to even more development, although the conservancy later sold out and agreed to mummy up in return for a little piece of the land in question. I stood on the ridge line with The Edge's crew last year, and one of his own advocates admitted that wildlife will be driven away by the development.

So count this a win for the mountain, but not a victory for the cause just yet.

Evans has made it clear he's going to try to exploit a legal loophole by arguing this isn't a single five-mansion project, but five separate projects. The thinking is that it'll be easier under so-called takings law for The Edge and his family and business associates to all end up in the compound together, watching the leaves in the wind and congratulating themselves for being such swell stewards of the land.

They paved paradise, you know, so this is liable to happen too.

Feel free to chain yourself to a tree, or better yet, weigh in before it's too late.


U2's The Edge loses Coastal Commission vote

Lopez: U2's The Edge finds the Conservancy's price

Interactive graphic: A look at U2's 360 stage

-- Steve Lopez