Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

“The Edge” is no longer on edge over his efforts to build five mansions on a Malibu hilltop.

A complex of the five mountaintop mansions proposed by U2 guitarist David “The Edge” Evans above Billionaire’s Beach in Malibu has cleared the California Coastal Commission on its third try.

However, the plan, bitterly opposed by environmentalists, surfers and Malibu homeowners, still faces hurdles at the Malibu City Council.

Meeting in Monterey Thursday, the Coastal Commission unanimously approved the cluster of five homes. The plan had been before the commission twice before, and each time it was withdrawn when it appeared headed for rejection.

However, the commission was unanimous in approving the latest version of the compound, which replaces five homes strung out along a prominent ridgeline with a cluster of homes on a small mesa.

“I want to thank the Coastal Commissioners, staff and community members for all their thoughtful feedback and guidance throughout this long process — it has inherently driven better home designs and ensured protection of Malibu’s natural resources,” Evans said.

“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 this goal.”

The plan leaves more than 98.7 percent of the land vacant, and preserves 148 acres of open space for public use. A key section of the Malibu Coastal Trail crosses it.

“When we first looked at it, it was five houses stretched over a ridgeline for a mile, and that was totally unacceptable,” said Jack Ainsworth, the commission’s assistant regional director.

Ainsworth said the five homes allow Evans reasonable use of his land, as required by the Constitution, and it also settles his lawsuit against the state.

Only two people spoke against the project, in contrast to a meeting last spring when testimony stretched on for hours.

A vice president of Heal the Bay complained that opponents could not get to Monterey, and asked for the decision to be delayed so Southern Californians could attend the meeting.

Ainsworth said the local objections have been heard by the commission before, and there was no opportunity to have a hearing near Malibu.

The battle, commissioners noted, is not over. An access road has to be carved up into the Santa Monica Mountains from nearby Malibu.

City Manager Jim Thorsen said Thursday that the city could not make a decision on allowing the road “until we saw what the eventual outcome would be” for the housing compound plan before the Coastal Commission.

In Malibu, opposition is fierce to the proposal. It is opposed by residents’ groups in two nearby pricey neighbors, as well as surfers’ groups and Malibu open space advocates.

Because of the uncertainty in Malibu, Coastal Commission members voted to give Evans five years, instead of the usual two, to get building permits before his approval expires.

— Wire reports 

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