U2 guitarist The Edge publically defended his 156-acre development on the California coastline this week, denying charges his plans will be an environmental disaster.
“We just had this dream of building a house that was in perfect harmony with these hills,” Edge told the New York Times. “We see it as something that could be a bench mark of sustainability.”
Unfortunately for the legendary guitar hero and Bono sidekick, many of his neighbors in Malibu see theproject as a bench mark for destroying habitats and view corridors.
Edge’s plan calls for five homes ranging from 7,317 square feet to 12,004 square feet, including a 1,600-foot long road snaking up the hillside. Neighbors and conservationists are irritated by several aspects of the project, but the idea of the 20-foot wide road draws special criticism.
“What is so silly is they say it is so green,” Paul Edelman, the chief of planning and natural resources for a neighboring nature conservancy, told the NYT. “But every time you drive up there, any savings you would have are shot by fossil fuel.”
The struggle over the plan has gone on for two years. “For somebody so revered even to be orchestrating this type of development in such a sensitive area is hypocritical,” Malibu councilman Jefferson Wagner told the Los Angeles Times last year.
Pristine hillside land is rare on the California coast, and construction is strictly controlled and always hotly debated. Any new development faces a lengthy, vitriolic battle.
To his credit, Edge—which the NYT calls the “nom de guitar” for David Evans—seems typically relaxed about the whole experience. While some celebrities run from such controversies, he’s occasionally granted interviews and personally engaged his neighbors.
When people see the actual plans, “they completely mellow out,” he assured the Times. Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, bought the property in 2006 with Irish developer Derek Quinlan, paying $9 million for the five lots, the Times reports. He’s “maintained a residence” in Malibu for decades, he told one interviewer.
Far from raping the landscape, the houses will be shining examples of green building, he says, with special consideration to preserving the fauna and reusing dirt. He told the New York Times the criticism is “overblown,” and noted that Malibu already has its share of ugly hillside development.
“There is this myth about how this road is going to be an eyesore, but it is so much better than anything up here,” he told the Times.
The plans are scheduled to go before California’s notoriously mercurial Coastal Commission this summer.