After a hard couple months on tour, what's a rock star supposed to do with their free time? All that adrenaline normally channeled toward playing a two-night stand at a sold-out Wembley Stadium has to come out somewhere. Fortunately for U2's The Edge, he has a six-year long solo project in Malibu that's been keeping him quite busy. This side project won't result in a new adult contemporary album boasting disappointing sales figures, however, just reams and reams of legal documents concerning a housing development that will not die. In December, after years of wrangling, it looked like The Edge had finally gotten the green light to build five mansions on a pristine Malibu bluff when the California Coastal Commission gave its ok. But now, the Sierra Club is taking its turn as the latest opponent to The Edge's Malibu housing plans—according to the LA Times, the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the Commission to nullify their approval of the project.
The lawsuit is yet another chapter in a saga that dates back to 2009. Getting the Commission's approval was an ordeal for The Edge: first he tried to submit plans for the five houses under five different names to fly under the radar. He gave the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy a substantial cash gift to keep them quiet on the matter. Then he went to the state legislature to lobby for a pro-development bill to help his cause. After all that, the Commission still gave a thumbs down to the project, saying the development would "scar a steep, undeveloped ridgeline visible from much of the coastline, cause extensive geological disturbance and destroy environmentally sensitive native vegetation." So The Edge sued.
As part of a compromise with the CCC, The Edge agreed to scale back the project, moving the houses slightly closer together and making them less visible from the shore below. He even dedicated 140 acres of his property to be used as a public open space for hiking and equestrian trails. The Commission gave its approval, albeit reluctantly. CCC Senior Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth said at the time he didn't want to see any development on the ridge, but he could not stop a property owner from building on their land, so the Commission had to settle for negotiating "the best deal that it could." Battered and bruised, the CCC approved The Edge's development in December. It looked like he had finally squashed all his bureaucratic enemies.
Enter the Sierra Club.
The environmental group has a laundry list of complaints about The Edge moving to Malibu and bringing five mansions with him (he'll reportedly take one and sell the rest). The group is contending that the Commission's approval is in violation of state law because they did not properly investigate the environmental impacts of allowing The Edge to build on the Malibu bluff. The CCC, they claim, did not investigate or suggest the possibility of alternative scenarios in which fewer or no houses would be built on the site. The Sierra Club also says the house are not in accordance with Malibu's local coastal plan, favoring the homes over the delicate habitats of wildlife in the area.
If The Edge can get past this lawsuit, he still faces a number of foes, each one with the potential to disrupt construction of the Malibu project. So, if the Sierra Club goes down, there's still Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, State Senator Fran Pavley, the National Park Service, Heal the Bay, and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains all waiting in the wings. Those groups ought to beware though. The Edge still has not yet employed one big trump card, his most diabolical weapon ... Bono.
· Sierra Club files lawsuit to stop U2 guitarist the Edge's Malibu development [LA Times]
· U2's The Edge Given Permission to Ruin Untouched Malibu Bluff [Curbed LA]
· Why is U2's the Edge So Determined to Ruin a Malibu Bluff? [Curbed LA]