Today, on this first day of Spring, Sierra Club won a great victory on appeal of the Sweetwater Mesa lawsuit challenging a residential development on ridge overlooking Malibu proposed by David Howell Evans, better known by his stage name the Edge in the rock band U2.
The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter and its Santa Monica Mountains Task Force (SMMTF) was represented by Dean Walraff from the firm Advocates for the Environment in both the original lawsuit and this successful appeal. Wallraff states ¨The Court held that the Coastal Commission lacked jurisdiction to approve the Coastal Development Permits for the Sweetwater Mesa Project, after Los Angeles County adopted its Local Coastal Plan for the area in 2014. The project permits therefore must be set aside. If the developer wants to obtain new permits, it must apply to Los Angeles County, not the Coastal Commission.¨
Sierra Club activists had worked hard over the years to block the development at hearing after hearing of the California Coastal Commission. The Commission rightly denied the project in 2011, but was subsequently sued and pressured by the real estate developers to reconsider its decision. The Sierra Club lawsuit called out the Coastal Commission for violating state law in approving the project.
The project is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area, one of the greatest urban parklands in the country. Roughly 54% of the 160,000 acres is public or otherwise protected open space that's home to coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife.
These parcels are adjacent to, and in close proximity to, the environmentally- sensitive, undeveloped Sweetwater Mesa area in the Santa Monica Mountain Range, lying within the world-famous Malibu Coastal Zone. Aside from its renouned, breathtaking views from the top (from 600 to 1,050 feet above sea level) and the bottom (Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu), this ridgeline is characterized by steep canyons, exclusively native and endangered species of vegetation, and where major wildlife networks exist and where popular hiking trails are enjoyed all year-long. This Range is also located where approximately half of the mountainous region is held in state and federal parks and recreation areas. In addition, it is subject to catastrophic wildfires, and is classified as a "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone".
The Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club welcomes your participation in its century of involvement in the enjoyment and protection of our planet's environment. The Angeles Chapter spans Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, with an extensive program of hikes/hiking, national and international travel, local conservation campaigns, political action, and programs for people of all ages.