UPDATE 4/30: I've been pointed in the direction of this excellent informational website that went live on April 20th. It highlights the eco-friendly features of the homes under scrutiny, introduces the design team, and hopes to set straight any myths surrounding this controversial building project. 

First, it was the pungent stench of a portable toilet on Bob Dylan’s property that literally caused a stink among the residents of Malibu, California. Now, folks in the exclusive beachfront town have another eco-disruption on their hands: U2 guitarist David Evans (AKA the Edge) plans to build five LEED-seeking homes on a hill above Malibu where development of the already precarious landscape has residents worried.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some Malibuites believe Evans’ ambitious project is an “environmental disaster” just waiting to happening. The project calls for extensive grading, extending a road into a landslide-prone area, and running a water line under land that would be better left undisturbed.

The properties are to be built in Serra Canyon, an area just above Malibu city limits that the California Coastal Commission worries is too environmentally sensitive. Specific concerns include landslide risk, destruction of habitats, heavy truck traffic, and complex engineering feats.

In recent years, U2 (saintly frontman Bono in particular) has become less of an innovative pop-rock group and more of a vehicle for environmental and humanitarian activism … nothing wrong with that. But Malibu councilman Jefferson Wagner believes that “for somebody so revered even to be orchestrating this type of development in such a sensitive area is hypocritical.”

Evans, who is building two of the eco-friendly homes for himself and Irish real estate investor Derek Quinlan and the remaining three on spec, believes the worries to be rubbish:

"My family and I love Malibu, having maintained a residence there 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."
The California Coastal Commission and Evans will be further discussing the matter this June.  

Now that we've heard from both sides, what do you think? Should worry-wart residents just assume that Mother Nature will cooperate with these heavy-duty, but eco-sensitive building plans? Would the project be any less outrageous/controversial if the man behind it wasn't a champion of green causes? 


Via [LA Times]

Image: Phil Romans

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Living near the Edge
U2 guitarist David Evans' massive, environmentally risky home building project has some Malibu residents feeling edgy.