The state agency that oversees coastal development in California has again come out against a proposal led by U2 guitarist The Edge for a cluster of mansions overlooking Malibu.
California Coastal Commission staff recommended yesterday that the board reject the project’s application at its June meeting.
In February, officials made the same recommendation before the item was pulled from the agenda at the request of the musician and his partners.
At the time, project manager Jim Vanden Berg expressed surprise but said he believed they could work with staff to “clarify misunderstandings”.
The proposal includes five multi-level homes of up to 12,785 square feet to be built on 156 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Project designers have said the homes will be Gold LEED Certified and the guitarist, whose real name is David Evans, has said the mansions will be some of the most environmentally sensitive in the world.
But opponents of the project, including the National Park Service, have argued that it will have considerable biological and visual impacts in such sensitive habitat.
The musician and his partners recently appeased the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which had opposed the project on these grounds, after agreeing to give the agency more than €1m (€699,000), dedicate nearly 100 acres to open space and provide public access to hiking trails.
A major sticking point for Coastal Commission staff, which suggested building fewer homes on the site, is the belief that the proposal is a large development being co-ordinated by The Edge instead of proposals by individual property owners to build a single home on their separate sites.
In their report, staff argued that the current owners were all working together to coordinate the development, which has a single project manager, single architect, single website and, until recently, a single agent that came before the commission. The report also pointed to the deal the owners collectively struck with the mountains conservancy.
In a two-page statement, Fiona Hutton, a spokeswoman for the property owners, responded to the staff report by citing the homeowners’ contributions to the mountains conservancy, their efforts to be sensitive to the environment and their agreement to many changes sought by staff.
She also accused commission staff of applying unreasonable standards to the project and of changing “the facts to support their predetermined position”.
“Alarm bells should be ringing among defenders of basic property rights everywhere in California,” the statement said.
“This precedent could affect land owners and property rights in the coastal zone and elsewhere in California, if local zoning authorities adopted the same unreasonable demands and standards as Coastal Commission staff is trying to apply.”