EXCLUSIVE: Environmental protesters halt U2’s The Edge from building his $100million Malibu dream home complex on 150 acres of untouched land – claiming the rocker wants to ‘pave over Paradise’
- Construction plans for U2 guitarist The Edge’s $100 Malibu dream home complex have been halted by environmental protesters
- The rockstar’s five-home project called ‘Leaves in the Wind’ has been 14 years in the making and he will have to take it to California’s Supreme Court to continue
- A 640,000-member group called Sierra Club sued The Edge – real name David Evans – two years ago over the development and lost
- They appealed the verdict Thursday and won, and the club’s lawyer told DailyMail.com this is a ‘win for everyone who cares about the environment’
- Evan’s bought the 151 acres of untouched land at Sweetwater Mesa in 2005 for $9million. It overlooks Malibu’s pier a thousand feet below
- Evans and his wife, dancer Morleigh Steinberg, fell in love with the land with plans to build a family compound with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean
Plans to build a $100million dream home in Malibu, California, by U2’s The Edge have been halted by environmental protesters.
The 57 year-old rocker, real name David Evans – the target of outraged opponents who say his plan would destroy a pristine mountainside – will now have to take his five-house project, called ‘Leaves in the Wind’, to California’s Supreme Court.
And if the star plans to pursue the project – already 14 years in the making – it could take another year or two.
The 640,000-member Sierra Club group sued Evans two years ago over his development…and lost.
But they appealed that verdict and Thursday they won with the California Court of Appeal issuing its decision in the club’s favor and reversing the original court ruling which would have allowed Evans to break ground on his homes.
‘I am extremely happy that we won today,’ a jubilant Dean Wallraff, the Sierra Club’s lawyer, told DailyMail.com. ‘This is a win for everyone who cares about the environment.
‘This is a terrible project, right in the middle of a beautiful, natural area close to a state park. ‘Putting five houses there would be bad enough but he also wants to put in a road to access those and that alone would tear up the whole hillside. It’s unthinkable the damage this would cause.’
Construction plans for U2 guitarist The Edge’s $100million Malibu dream homes have been halted by environmental protesters who sued the rocker
This rendering shows one of the homes of the rockstar’s five-home project called ‘Leaves in the Wind’, which has been 14 years in the making after major pushback by from environmental groups
A 640,000-member group called Sierra Club sued The Edge – real name David Evans – two years over the development and lost, but appealed the verdict and won Thursday to stop the U2 guitarist from building the home pictured in this rendering
It has been a long legal battle for Evans to build the five homes and he has altered the architecture and planning to accommodate environmental groups. He agreed that the houses would be built with ‘earth tone’ materials, they would have non-reflective glass to cut down glinting, and outside light bulbs would be no more than 60 watts to prevent too much brightness at night
When the designs, like this one, for the home were first made public, all hell broke loose, with local headlines reading: ‘THE EDGE WANTS TO PAVE OVER PARADISE’ and ‘THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION’
Stan Lamport, attorney for Evans and his developers, didn’t respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Thursday’s court decision against Evans is the latest in a long series of hard-fought – and expensive – legal battles he has waged since 2005 when he paid around $9million for 151 acres of untouched land at Sweetwater Mesa overlooking Malibu pier a thousand feet below.
Evans and his wife, dancer Morleigh Steinberg, purchased the land with plans to build a compound where family members, including Morleigh’s sister, could live
The site is a steep bluff covered with sparse scrub, coarse bushes and rock outcrops and inhabited only by rattlesnakes, lizards, deer and the occasional coyote.
Evans and his second wife, LA-born dancer Morleigh Steinberg, fell in love with it because of its spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and because they thought it would make a perfect sanctuary and hideaway where they, along with relatives – like his sister Gillian Delaney – and close friends, could build a family compound away from prying eyes.
He hired famed LA architect Wallace Cunningham who, with the input of engineers, geologists and other consultants, came up with designs for five futuristic-looking homes, all with swimming pools, that were supposed to blend in with the natural character of the hillside, hence the name ‘Leaves in the Wind.’
But when the designs – three of which were for houses of more than 12,000 square feet – became public, all hell broke loose. ‘THE EDGE WANTS TO PAVE OVER PARADISE,’ blared one local headline. ‘THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION,’ slammed another.
Environmentalists like the Sierra Club and Heal the Bay joined the National Park Service and other watchdog groups lined up to lambaste the five houses – and the half-mile-long road that would need to be built to access them – saying they would ruin a picturesque Malibu hillside and kill off plant and animal life there.
In 2009, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board also condemned the development and sent a strong letter of opposition to the California Coastal Commission (CCC), the 12-person body that has to give its approval before any new building is allowed along the state’s 1,100-mile coastline.
With all the furor and letters of protest it received, when Evans’ plan came up for approval at the CCC’s meeting in June 2011, it was soundly rejected by a vote of 8-4, with then CCC director, the late Peter Douglas, telling commission members, ‘In 38 years of this commission’s existence, this is one of the three worst projects I’ve seen in terms of devastation.
‘It’s a contradiction in terms – you can’t be serious about being an environmentalist and pick this location.’
But Evans wouldn’t take no for an answer.
He sued the CCC, prompting LA Times columnist Steve Lopez to write, ‘The Edge is not a man whose guitar gently weeps. No matter how many times he’s called a hypocrite, he just keeps bullying foes, determined to have his way.’
Faced with Evans’ lawsuit and his small army of lawyers and experts, the CCC softened its stance, saying that if he reduced the size of the homes and made them less visible, the Commission might look more favorably on the designs.
The National Park Service and other watchdog groups say the half-mile-long Sweetwater Mesa Road – that would need to be built to access Evan’s compound – would ruin a picturesque Malibu hillside and kill off plant and animal life there.
Evan’s bought the 151 acres of untouched land at Sweetwater Mesa in 2005 for $9million. The land overlooks Malibu’s pier a thousand feet below
A lawyer for the Sierra Club tells DailyMail.com that the ‘ultra-luxurious’ homes in the Santa Monica Mountains would be in plain sight of numerous public viewing areas along Pacific coast
The U2 rocker, pictured at a 2018 concert with lead singer Bono, is not expected to back down. An attorney for the Sierra Club tells DailyMail.com, ‘I’m pretty sure Evans will take his case to the Supreme Court’
So Evans shelved his lawsuit and sent his architects, engineers and consultants back to the drawing board.
He also said he would hand over 140 of his 151 acres for public use and reportedly pledged $1million to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to build and maintain a public hiking trail.
In exchange, the Conservancy dropped its opposition to the project.
Evans even sent lawyers and lobbyists to California’s State Capital, Sacramento, to try to get planning laws changed.
That move didn’t succeed, but it cost a small fortune.
In fact, his lobbying and past and present legal bills are estimated to be more than $10million…so far.
When Evans brought his revised plans back to the CCC for approval in December 2015, the five houses were smaller – the biggest was 9,500 square feet – and the homes were clustered together more closely than before and sited off the ridge, making them less visible from Pacific Coast Highway that runs along the ocean below.
In addition, the houses would be built with ‘earth tone’ materials; they would have non-reflective glass to cut down glinting; and outside lightbulbs would be no more than 60 watts to prevent too much brightness at night.
With their conditions met, the CCC approved the new plans by a vote of 12-0. But any triumph Evans felt was short lived.
A month later, the Sierra Club sued, accusing the CCC of violating local environmental laws by giving the green light to the rock star’s plans.
His dream homes were on hold again.
‘The project is an ultra-luxurious housing development of five huge residences and five swimming pools placed 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’s lawyer, Wallraff argued in the group’s lawsuit to block the plan.
‘It requires a highly engineered 2,180 foot access road …..It also requires a 7,000-foot water line that will be installed with trenching drilling and will disturb habitat. In approving the project, the CCC failed to proceed in the manner required by law.’
Evans agreed to hand over 140 of his 151 acres of land for public use to appease environmentalists trying to halt construction. He reportedly pledged $1million to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to build and maintain a public hiking trail
The project to build on the land pictured above will set Evans back an estimated $78million in construction costs, including $24million for the access road alone
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In May 2017, LA Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied the Sierra Club’s lawsuit and ruled in favor of The Edge and the CCC.
The judge decided the Commission had complied with local planning laws in approving the project – which will set Evans back an estimated $78million in construction costs, including $24million for the access road alone.
Again, Evans’ jubilation at winning the lawsuit didn’t last long.
Two months later, the Sierra Club filed an appeal against Judge Chalfant’s ruling – and his dream home was shelved once more.
The appeals process – with legal briefs, motions and counter motions totaling 30,000 pages of court documents – dragged on for almost two more years till the judges in California’s Court of Appeal 2nd District heard oral arguments from the lawyers of Evans, the Sierra Club and CCC at a hearing in Los Angeles on February 14 this year.
On Thursday they issued their verdict – which upheld the Sierra Club’s appeal and threw out the original court’s decision for Evans.
The Appeals judges found the CCC had NOT complied with local planning laws in approving Evans’ project and that LA county Planning Dept has approval power over the project, not the CCC.
Evans recourse now would be to take his case to California’s Supreme Court.
‘Whoever loses can ask the California Supreme court to reverse the appeal decision,’ Wallraff, the Sierra Club’s attorney, explained to DailyMail.com. ‘I’m pretty sure Evans will take his case to the Supreme Court. But there’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case since they only hear 3-5 percent of those submitted to them for review.’
If the Supreme Court route doesn’t work, Evans could submit his plans to LA County planners, Wallraff added, a process which will take another year.
During which time, the Edge’s dream home will remain just that, a dream.
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