- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The guitarist for U2 and several other property owners whose proposal to build a cluster of mansions overlooking Malibu failed to get past state regulators have filed lawsuits against the California Coastal Commission.

The lawsuits filed Friday argue that the basis for the commission’s decision to deny their permits in June was not legal.

The property owners say they are five separate owners each building a single home on separate lots, an argument that would have made it more difficult for the commission to reject their proposal.

The commission, however, determined there was enough evidence to show the project was under common ownership, coordinated and led by U2 guitarist The Edge, whose real name is David Evans.

The proposal called for five multilevel homes of up to 12,785 square feet to be built on 156 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. Project designs said the homes would have the top green building certifications and the guitarist himself said the mansions would be some of the most environmentally sensitive in the world.

“When we buy property zoned for residential use, we expect to be able to build a home,” said Fiona Hutton, spokeswoman for the property owners. “But in this case, after years of working cooperatively with the Coastal Commission and planning the most environmentally sensitive homes possible, government changed the rules and is now denying these families right to use their land.”

Project opponents, however, including the National Park Service said the development would scar the expansive ridgeline. The musician and his partners had appeased one of its staunches opponents, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy after agreeing to give the agency more than $1 million, dedicate nearly 100 acres to open space and provide public access to hiking trails if the homes were approved.

In the end, the majority of the commission deemed the project too environmentally destructive to allow and voted against permitting it.

Charles Lester, acting executive director for the commission, could not directly comment on the lawsuit because they had yet to see it but said the commission had ample evidence to support its decision.

“The commission had a comprehensive presentation on this issue and felt there was a legal basis for their vote,” he said.

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