U2 Guitarist's Malibu Proposal Pulled From Agenda

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California's coastal development agency has postponed voting on U2 guitarist The Edge's plan for a cluster of mansions overlooking Malibu at the musician's request.

Staff for the California Coastal Commission recommended that officials reject The Edge's project its meeting on Thursday. The proposal led by the musician, whose real name is David Evans, includes five multilevel homes ranging from 7,220 to 12,785 square feet to be built on a ridgeline in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu. Project designers say the homes will be Gold LEED Certified and the guitarist has said the mansions will be some of the most environmentally sensitive ever designed in the world.

But the green pitch has not gotten very far with neighboring residents, environmental groups, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and even the National Park Service, which raised concerns about biological and visual impacts in such sensitive habitat.

"We believe the intensity of this project - in terms of the amount of new construction, location relative to surrounding habitat and topography, scale of grading and significance of infrastructural improvements - is unprecedented for single family residential development in the Santa Monica Mountains," wrote Woody Smeck, the agency's Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area superintendent in a letter to the commission.

Staff for the California Coastal Commission, the coastal development agency whose permission is critical for the project to move forward, issued its recommendation on Monday saying the board should reject the project because it destroys habitat and disrupts public views. The Edge and four other investors asked the commission to postpone voting on the project, which is now expected to be taken up during the April meeting.

Project manager Jim Vanden Berg seemed surprised by the staff's decision, saying the architects had redesigned each of the homes in order to fulfill staff recommendations.

"That said," he said. "I believe we can work with the staff to clarify misunderstandings, and all the owners look forward to a fair hearing in front of the Commission."

The guitarist, who owns other property in Malibu, partnered with high-end global hotel developer Derek Quinlan to buy the property in 2006 for $9 million. He later listed the lots for $7.5 million.

The project proposes to dig an access road up the mountain behind the exclusive Serra Retreat neighborhood, where stars such as Mel Gibson and Britney Spears have called home. Renderings show organic design features such as a pool that encircles one of the homes like a moat and another house that would wrap around an existing pile of boulders.

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