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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Edge Subdivision Scheduled for Coastal Commission Hearing on June 16 in Marina Del Rey

• Ownership Issue Still Contentious

BY BILL KOENEKER

The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to consider a controversial five- home subdivision planned for the hills high above Sweetwater Mesa at its June 16 meeting in Marina Del Rey.
The project is spearheaded by David Evans, better known as the Edge, guitarist for the band U2, who wants to build the homes, ranging from 7000 square feet to over 12,000 square feet. The area is deemed inappropriate for the project by the Coastal Commission staff, which is making a recommendation for denial.
The matter had been on the February agenda with the same recommendation of denial before the item was pulled from the agenda.
“As is explained in detail, due to the specific facts of this case, the commission can deny the present applications without committing such a taking. That is true, in part, because there are feasible alternatives to the proposed development that would avoid or substantially reduce the adverse environmental effects of the projects and the impacts,” the CCC staff report states.
Some of those particulars were laid out in the staff report and concluded: “The five lots at issue are all contiguous. The five lots at issue were all purchased on the same day in 2005. Prior owners proposed a single development scheme for all five lots. The current owners propose a unified development scheme with a shared road and [plan] to coordinate road and utility development. The current project has a single project manager, a single architect and single landscape architect, a single website devoted to publicity for the project, until recently, had a single agent before the commission who coordinated the filing of the coastal development permit. Project proponents regularly refer to it as a single, coordinate project.”
However, that is not what has stirred the ire of the applicants and its public relations firm. It is the staff report statements about unity of ownership that “one or two parties appear to control this entire project,” that caused a reaction from Fiona Hutton & Associates, who was hired by the applicants.
“In a blatant attempt to arrange or change the facts to support their predetermined position, the Coastal Commission staff is setting a dangerous precedent by applying standards to these property owners the staff have never used before. The individual property owners have provided all information required by law for consideration of their application. More importantly, staff is pursuing a legal theory that Coastal Commission legal counsel has advised them in the past is beyond their authority,” said Fiona Hutton, in a prepared statement.
The commission staff points to these facts: “David Evans’ statements to two sitting commissioners. David Evan’s statement on his website for this development. Statements in numerous news articles. All five properties were purchased on the same day, with loans from the same bank. The coordinate recordation of the deeds of trust and grant deeds with sequential recordation numbers at the Office of the county Recorder for Los Angeles County.
“All five properties were purchased by LLCs that were created on the same day a week earlier. The five LLCs all converted to LLLPs on the same day. The principals of the five LLCs (and original principals of the five LLLPS were: One individual, his wife, his business partner, the director of that business partner’s company, the project manager.”
Three of the five lots changed their principals in 2010, soon after commission staff informed the parties of staff’s intention to assert related ownership. One of the new owners is the individual’s sister.
“We find these unfair requests and contentions by staff extremely troubling and look forward to presenting our proposals and the real facts to the appointed Coastal Commissioners in June,” Hutton stated.
However, the commission staff report counters that the applicants have failed to provide ownership information to staff despite repeated requests, and that they failed to provide information to rebut the inferences that were first presented in the February staff report.

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