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Veronique de Turenne

Thanks, Dave Evans, for developing a virgin Malibu mountaintop

u2 malibu mansions.jpg
LA Times photo of a neighbor checking out the view, by Anne Cusack.

Persistence and enough money to fight for a decade won the day for U2's guitarist Dave Evans, aka The Edge, who got permission from the Coastal Commission to build five 10,000-square-foot homes, each with its own swimming pool, on an untouched Malibu ridge.

From Nita Lelyveld's story in the LA Times:

For nearly a decade, environmental groups and many residents have objected, saying to do so would needlessly despoil sensitive habitat and mar the visual landscape.

On Thursday, after numerous hearings of the California Coastal Commission, the Irish musician finally prevailed.

At a meeting in Monterey, the panel voted unanimously to approve David Evans' project -- although much has changed since the initial proposal in 2011.

Five houses will be built on the property in the Sweet Mesa area, each one more than 10,000 square feet and featuring its own swimming pool.

But where they once were to stand proudly spread out along the upper ridge line, the homes instead will be clustered closer together on a lower plateau.

It's not just the five mansion which, despite amendments to the original building plan, will be visible from pretty much anywhere. It's the indefensibly steep toll that building the compound will take on a fragile environment. Again from Nita's story:

" of the homes on just over five acres of the property will require 63,390 cubic yards of grading and disturb 17 acres of habitat classified as environmentally sensitive.

Yes, the project has been substantially reduced in size over the years Evans' people have been fighting for the compound. What hasn't changed is that to even reach the land, a new road has to be built, as does the infrastructure -- pipelines and power poles -- to bring water and electricity to the five mansions.

The city of Malibu gets to weigh in on the new road, and LA County is part of the permitting process as well. Which is why the Coastal Commission has upped the term of the building permit from two to five years.

From the start Evans has said his intent is to build green homes. Trouble is, there's no green way to do that. Once these mansions are built, centuries-old habitat and wildlife trails are destroyed, the land is further fragmented, and another increasingly rare bit of true wilderness gets erased. And for what?

Next entry: Signs of Saturday: Where does The, Comma go anyway?

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