U2's The Edge Upsets Malibu Neighbors


The Edge considers building a Malibu compound. Photo via Flickr: by U25150’s photostream

It’s not the first time members of U2 have encountered building permit problems. When the band announced erecting U2 Tower, the tallest structure in Dublin, the Irish revolted, with conservationists in an uproar over the demolition of historic buildings in the industrial docklands. Now The Edge is forging ahead with plans for a mini-development of five homes in Malibu, California causing outrage among his neighbors.
U2’s guitarist hatched a plan with Irish real estate investor Derek Quinlan for five mountaintop mansions with breathtaking panoramic ocean views above Kelsey Grammer and James Cameron’s spreads. It’s likely to involve some special engineering for the steep hillside grading (70,000 cubic yards worth), require new water lines and an extended road. The idea is to occupy one of the two homes connected by 19 overlapping roofs called "Leaves in the Wind" with his wife who hails from nearby Santa Monica. The other three places on the 156-acre site will apparently be sold.


The 167-year-old Clarence Hotel renovated in the 1990s by new owners Bono and The Edge. Photo via Flickr: by infomatique

Since Bono and The Edge did restore a modest hotel in Ireland, you might expect the guitarist a/k/a David Evans to be sensitive to construction issues, but residents in the Coral and Latigo canyons of Malibu’s hills are angry about him evicting an old archery club, leveling the mountaintop, possible water run-off, land erosion, wildlife endangerment, and, of course, obstruction of views.

Residents’ complaints about the proposed project as an environmental catastrophe, include Malibu councilman (and mayoral candidate), Jefferson Wagner, who told the LA Times:

The downside of this is a permanently scarred mountainside for the benefit of a very few that for many years all will view. For somebody so revered, even to be orchestrating this type of development, in such a sensitive area is hypocritical.

The Edge countered:

My family and I love Malibu, having maintained a residence here for more than a decade. These homes will be some of the most environmentally sensitive ever designed in Malibu—or anywhere in the world. I'm disappointed that certain critics either don't have the facts or have ulterior motives.


Don’t all Malibu houses benefit just the few? Photo via Flickr: by MichaelKMak

Is this a NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) overreaction to noisy messy construction? Whining over obstruction of views? Sincere opposition about a real negative environmental impact? Or perhaps all of the above? Though massive conspicuous new building seems unnecessary, during these times it could also be a real estate boondoggle instead of a boon. A celebrity indulgence (The Edge does own a few other spots around the world) that could be oblivious to the surroundings, but if it's a green building as The Edge claims, isn't that an improvement over other developments? Do we hold high-profile altruistic U2 to higher standards or is Bono the earth-friendly leader of the band?

Though a green mansion may be an oxymoron, The Edge could at least build a new archery center for locals and preserve the nature on the property as many philanthropic landowners do in LA. Since all is in order with Los Angeles County, come June we’ll know if the California Coastal Commission approves the compound despite opposition.

The outcome may give new meaning to the title of U2’s latest album, No Line on the Horizon.
More on green mansions:
9 "Green" Monsters: Can a 15000 SF Mcmansion be Green?
Alternative Energy Mansions
Big Houses Are Not Green: America's McMansion Problem
Quote of the Day: Building Green Houses is Like "Polishing a Turd"
EnviroDevelopment: Rating Greener Housing Estates

Tags: Celebrities | Conspicuous Consumption | Construction | Green Building | Preservation

Best of TreeHugger 2014

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK