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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

The Edge Drives Sierra Club Over the Edge

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Sierra Club has challenged U2 guitarist The Edge's plan to build five homes on a pristine Malibu ridge, claiming California violated its own environmental laws by approving the development and withered in the face of legal threats.

The Sierra Club sought writ of mandate Thursday in Superior Court, asking a judge to set aside the California Coastal Commission's approval of construction at a 151-acre site in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Edge (David Evans) is not a party to the lawsuit. The Coastal Commission is the respondent, and developers Mulryan Properties, Morleigh Properties, Vera Properties, Lunch Properties, Ronan Properties and Ed West Coast properties are named as real parties in interest.

The guitarist plans to build five luxury homes, each with a swimming pool, "smack in the middle of hundreds of acres of open space in the Santa Monica Mountains in plain sight of numerous public viewing areas along Pacific Coast Highway," The Sierra Club says in the complaint.

The controversial development has been in the works since 2011. The Edge faced objections from environmental groups and residents before winning approval to build the homes on Dec. 10 last year.

At that time, The Edge, who had threatened to take legal action if he did not get his way, thanked the Coastal Commission and the community "for all their thoughtful feedback and guidance throughout this long process," and said, "it has inherently driven better home designs and ensured protection of Malibu's natural resources."

"From day one my intention was to build a home of the very highest possible standard of environmental sensitivity and sustainability. Together, this collaborative effort has achieved that goal," he said.

But The Sierra Club says the Coastal Commission "failed to proceed in the manner required by law, and its findings in support of the approval are not supported by substantial evidence in the record."

The construction "requires a highly engineered 2,180-foot access road built on caissons due to the instability of the slopes it crosses. It also requires a 7,000-foot water line that will be installed with trenching drilling and will disturb habitat," the petition states.

In 2011, after the commission denied applications to build residences on the site, four of the developers filed lawsuits. In the face of those claims, the commission agreed to remand the applications back to the agency and allowed Morleigh to file a new application.

The Sierra Club says the commission ultimately rubber-stamped the project because of the "threat posed by the applicant lawsuits."

Sierra Club say the site is a high risk area for wild fires and burned in the 1994 Malibu fire. The Fire Department would find it difficult to respond promptly because of a long access road to the site and steep terrain, the group says.Taking a shot at U2, the group notes that if the band plays at the compound it could contribute to noise pollution and increased traffic.

"Noise from the project might be considerable if the celebrity occupants hold frequent loud parties. The Edge is a member of a prominent rock band that will likely perform at such parties," the filing states.

The Sierra Club asks the court to order the developers to suspend the project until it complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Coastal Act.

The Sierra Club is represented by Dean Wallraff, with nonprofit law firm Advocates for the Environment, in Shadow Hills.

Coastal Commission spokeswoman Noaki Schwartz said Friday the agency had not reviewed the filing and declined to comment.

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