The Edge's green pitch for Malibu riles residents

ByABC News
May 2, 2009, 9:25 AM

MALIBU, Calif. -- A few years ago, U2 guitarist The Edge went for a hike, and there in the golden hills overlooking Malibu's cerulean waters, he finally found what he was looking for.

The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, bought a 156 acres in Santa Monica Mountains and now want to build five mansions there, including their own dream home. From a distance, they say, their house will look like nothing more than scattered leaves on the ridgeline.

"These homes will be some of the most environmentally sensitive ever designed in Malibu or anywhere in the world," the guitarist, whose real name is David Evans, said in a prepared statement.

Nearby residents, however, haven't bought his green pitch and say The Edge is endangering the beauty of one of Southern California's most famous beachfront communities along with U2's globally conscious image.

"It is going to look nice to the human eye but at what cost?" said surf shop owner and City Councilman Jefferson Wagner. "When is enough enough?"

The plan has sparked the latest development controversy in Malibu, where residents and city officials portray themselves as stewards of a blessed environment even as the construction of palatial mansions and sweeping driveways turn vast swaths of that environment to mulch.

The project proposed by The Edge calls for a cluster of five, 10,000-square-foot homes. The two-story, earth-toned dwellings would be the maximum size allowed in areas designated as environmentally sensitive habitat.

Renderings show organic design features such as a pool that encircles one home like a moat. Another house would wrap around an existing pile of boulders while The Edge's own dwelling would feature curved roof lines to simulate leaves.

The Edge is also proposing to dig an access road up the mountain behind the exclusive Serra Retreat neighborhood of about 90 homes that stars such as Mel Gibson, Kelsey Grammer and Britney Spears have called home.

"They're claiming it's a green environmental project, but you'd have to live in the houses a thousand years" to make up for the carbon dioxide emitted by the trucks hauling the dirt out, said Lawrence Weisdorn, president of the Serra Retreat homeowners association.