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U2's The Edge loses Coastal Commission vote, 8 to 4

June 16, 2011 |  6:02 pm

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday rejected a controversial proposal by U2 guitarist The Edge to build five mansions on a rugged stretch in the hills above Malibu.

The 8-4 vote was the culmination of a hard-fought battle between the musician, whose real name is David Evans, and the agency that regulates development along the California coastline.

"In 38 years of this commission's existence, this is is one of the three worst projects that I've seen in terms of environmental devastation," Peter Douglas, the agency's executive director, said. "It's a contradiction in terms -- you can't be serious about being an environmentalist and pick this location" given the effects on habitat, land formation, scenic views and water quality.

Douglas said he expects the matter to end up in court.

Evans, who had fought since 2006 for permits for his home and four others in the Sweetwater Mesa area, hired some of the state’s most prominent lobbyists and promoted the development as environmentally friendly — a notion many conservationists derided.

An attorney for the owners of one parcel withdrew the application at the last minute when rejection appeared imminent.

Commission staff reports had twice recommended rejecting the project, saying it would disturb sensitive habitat and scar a rugged ridgeline visible from much of the Malibu coast.

Staff members have expressed concern that the development, if approved, could pave the way for other earth-altering housing projects throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.


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--Martha Groves