Sierra Club Wins Appeal to Stop the Sweetwater Mesa Project in Malibu

  • Posted on 21 March 2019
  • By Chapter Staff
The hillside ridge, as seen from Malibu lagoon, which would be destroyed if the Sweetwater Mesa project is built. Sierra Club sued to halt the project. Photo credit: Jim Kenney


Irish Examiner

Daily Mail - U.K. 

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 ruling by the Second Appellate District of the Court of Appeal of the State of California reversed an earlier judgment by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County and nullified the Coastal Development Permits issued by the Coastal Commission in 2015, to allow five residences and an access road to be constructed along a 3,000-foot stretch of a "Signigicant Ridgeline" in the Santa Monica Mountains.  
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.¨
The Sierra Club originally filed its lawsuit in 2016 to stop the Sweetwater Mesa project and its plans to build a complex of houses in the mountains above Malibu.
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".
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