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Senate panel rejects bill that could boost U2 guitarist's plans

Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2012
By: Michael J. Mishak


A key Senate panel on Tuesday rejected a bill that could have pumped new life into a quashed proposal by U2 guitarist the Edge to build five mansions on a scenic bluff above Malibu.

The measure, AB 2226, would have required state agencies to accept as fact that the person holding the deed to a piece of property is the owner. The issue is at the heart of a dispute between the California Coastal Commission and the Edge, whose real name is David Evans.

Last year, the agency denied the rock star's plans because it said he was attempting to bypass environmental rules and maximize development by obscuring ownership and submitting five separate applications, each under a different corporate name.

Evans has denied any connection to the legislation, but some of the same lobbyists and attorneys that he employed to help him before the Coastal Commission pushed the bill in the Capitol. Though the guitarist's name was not mentioned in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, his lawyer, Stanley Lamport, urged lawmakers to support the measure.

"This affects everybody," said Lamport, noting that he was testifying as legislative chairman of the California Business Properties Assn., the sponsor of the bill.

Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights), the measure's author and a former coastal commissioner, said he was pursuing the issue to curb what he sees as an overzealous bureaucracy and to align California property law with the rest of the nation.

Recent Coastal Commission decisions, he said, had set precedents that were "making the investment structure of California extremely volatile," a notion shared by the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

The agency countered that it was well within the law and urged lawmakers to oppose the bill.

"The current system has been in place for over 70 years," said Sarah Christie, legislative director for the Coastal Commission.

Christie said the bill's key aim was "really about maximizing your development potential" in environmentally sensitive areas. The legislation, she added, would make it more difficult for state agencies to determine true ownership when evaluating public leases and development deals.

Democrats rejected the measure on a party-line vote, expressing concerns that the measure would have broad implications for coastal development.

The bill failed 2-3.

© Los Angeles Times, 2012.

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