In the back and forth drama over plans for U2’s The Edge (aka David Howell Evans) 5 mountaintop eco-mansions in Malibu, it appears that momentum has shifted towards the rocker.
Two years in the making, Evans’ purchased the 156-acre piece of pristine wilderness back in 2006 but has faced stiff opposition from homeowners currently below the planned development (including celebs like Dick Van Dyke, Kelsey Grammer and James Cameron) – as well as a host of conservation organizations. As Erin reported in February, “for the development to work some tricky engineering is required. Including extending a road down rugged elevation, grading 70,000 cubic yards of hillside, and installing water lines to reach the homes.”
Evans has stated that of the 156-acres, only one will actually be developed, with the rest being left as is. Nevertheless, in February, the The California Coastal Commission (CCC) recommended rejecting the plan for “Sweetwater Mesa” because, according to them, it would cause extensive geological damage and hurt the environmental integrity of the land.
Now, however, at least one organization that had previously rejected the development is switching teams. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy board voted 3-2 in favour of the plans this week – likely due to Evans pledge of $1M to the group. According to the UK Daily Mail, $750,000 will go to help trail easements – with another $250K for consulting services. The payments depend on the development receiving final approval and overcoming any legal obstacles.
This is quite a shift by the conservancy, who in 2009, wrote a letter to the CCC panning the development and adding that it would “be impossible to build without “unavoidable significant adverse visual and ecological impacts.” Naturally, critics slammed the deal as nothing more than a money for silence.
“This would break up a large block of almost pristine wildlife habitat—one of the most impressive coastal-mountain interfaces in the country,” said David Brown, who sits on the conservancy’s advisory board. “And though you’re not really endorsing the project, you’re withdrawing your objections to it, and it’s not acceptable.”
Evans still has to gain the support of the CCC – and based on February’s decision, it’s clear that’s one hurdle that will be harder to overcome. Unless, of course, there’s a price for their support as well.