A Beautiful Day at the California Coastal Commission

Angel Law is pleased to announce that on June 16, 2011, the California Coastal Commission denied the project of U2 guitarist David Evans (a.k.a. The Edge) proposing to construct five supersized luxury residences on top of one of the Santa Monica Mountains’ most prominent ridgelines, highly visible from major public recreation areas, including iconic Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach. The residences depended on a mile-long, 20-foot wide new access road cutting through an environmentally sensitive habitat area. Angel Law submitted written comments and testified before the Commission on behalf of its client Save Open Space Santa Monica Mountains, requesting denial of the permits for the poorly sited development plan.

In addition to supporting the findings by Coastal Commission staff demonstrating numerous project inconsistencies with the California Coastal Act of 1976, we denounced a questionable backroom deal between the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and representatives of the Edge. The Conservancy dropped its opposition to the project after being promised a $750,000 payment, $250,000 worth of work for a project lobbyist and restrictions to provide for a short length of trail to be built through a sliver of the 156-acre property. Based on its experience in prior cases involving similar Conservancy deals, Angel Law informed the Coastal Commissioners of the Conservancy’s troublesome history of dropping legitimate objections to projects in exchange for developer money. Angel Law’s letter to the Coastal Commission reminded the Commission that the resource protection policies of the Coastal Act are not bargaining chips for the Conservancy, and asked the Commission not to jeopardize its own institutional prestige by signing off on the deal touted by a Conservancy representative at the hearing.

We are grateful that the Coastal Commission upheld the Coastal Act and, in the process, declined to accept the Conservancy’s thinly disguised invitation to approve the Edge project.

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