Players: U2 guitarist the Edge; the city of Malibu
Opening Serve: All U2's David Evans, better known as the Edge, wants to do is build five "eco-friendly" homes on a hill-top expanse of Malibu land he purchased in 2005. However, the California Coastal commission has enacted preventative measures against the Edge's proposal in response to local residents' concerns that "the project would produce an environmental disaster, since it would mean extending a road on rugged slopes through slide-prone areas, running a water line under similarly challenging terrain and grading more than 70,000 cubic yards of earth," according to a Los Angeles Times report from 2009. At the time Jim Vanden Berg, an Evans representative, insisted that the development "will create a sense of place that respects the environment [and] architecture that will stand the test of time." Evans himself attempted to appeal to the council by saying "My family and I love Malibu, having maintained a residence there for more than a decade. These homes will be some of the most environmentally sensitive ever designed in Malibu--or anywhere in the world. I'm disappointed that certain critics either don't have the facts or have ulterior motives."
Return Volley: The California Coastal Commission was, apparently, not convinced and after receiving recommendations to shut down the project, officially decided Thursday to reject it. "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," Peter Douglas, the Commission's director, told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a contradiction in terms--you can't be serious about being an environmentalist and pick this location."
But the Edge won't give on his dream compound which, though it doesn't exist, already has a name: "Leaves in the Wind." Another spokeswoman, Fiona Hutton, said after hearing the Commission's decision that Evans and his partners "remain steadfast in their vision" and are considering taking the dispute to court. "We'd like to be treated fairly, like any other applicant that comes before the coastal commission," she told Reuters.
What They Say the Fight's About: The Malibu residents opposed to the Edge's real estate aspirations argue that the construction would "mar views of the ridge line for more than a mile along the coast" and harm an ecosystem that "is home to mountain lions and native chaparral." The Edge seems to think his Malibu neighbors have "ulterior motives" for rejecting his plan, but it's unclear what exactly these "motives" are.
What the Fight's Really About: Evans insists that the homes built to comprise "Leaves in the Wind" would "meet the highest environmental standards by incorporating recycled and renewable materials, rainwater catchment systems, solar panels and native landscaping," the LA Times relays. That's all well and good, but what the fight's really about is the point made by "conservation groups and homeowners in the canyons and hillsides below...that, no matter how green the homes themselves might be, a project that carves out so much earth by definition is not eco-friendly." It doesn't help the Edge's case that he's believed to have attempted "to skirt environmental regulations by asking the panel to consider each home separately, rather than weigh the overall project." It seems clear that the homes are part of one large project, by virtue of the fact that the "five distinct owners" of the pieces of property are the Edge's business associates and family members.
Who's Winning Now: Malibu is winning now and, unless the Edge can successfully argue his case in court, will win in the end. Perhaps the Edge should find a better spot to build.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.