Cher's plans to build a 16,000-square-foot mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu have hit a wall of resistance from the California Coastal Commission.
Although it did not quibble over the design for the sprawling, Mediterranean-style house the actress wants to build on a bluff top near Pacific Coast Highway, the state panel last week looked at plans for the 10-foot-high security walls to surround the property and sent the project back to the drawing board.
"What do you need all those walls for?" asked commissioner Gary Giacomini when the matter came up Wednesday. "It looks like San Quentin."
Cher's architect, Scott Carter, acknowledged that the proposed entry to the two-acre property near Puerco Canyon Road may resemble prison gates to some people, but he said the walls were necessary.
"She has a very serious problem with security," he said. "The intention is to make the house as secure as possible."
But the commissioners, several of whom expressed concern that the walls would mar the view of the ocean from the coast highway, postponed approval of the project, pending further review.
They also ordered that an independent study be conducted to determine whether the septic system proposed for the property, which is near a landslide, would cause a geologic hazard.
"We're talking about a house that is close to the landslide and that is going to have a lot of bathrooms in it," commissioner Madelyn Glickfeld said. "It's not going to have the typical sewage effluent of the typical 3,000-square-foot home."
Glickfeld said she was troubled by the walls, especially since the Coastal Commission several years ago required a nearby homeowner to remove a security wall, saying that it obstructed the view of the ocean.
The Coastal Commission's staff had recommended approval of Cher's project on the condition that landscaping be added to help screen the walls from public view.
The 15,822-square-foot house would have a five-car garage, tennis court, swimming pool, a reflecting pool at the main entrance and a detached workshop.
Cher, a Malibu resident, also has a home in Aspen, Colo., a spokesman for the entertainer said.
Although the house that Cher wants to build would be huge, it would not be as large as others the commission has approved in the star-studded community, including a 19,905-square-foot house built by actor Michael Landon.
At least one commissioner, however, expressed concern for another precedent.
"It was only a few years ago that we turned down a request by Julie Andrews for a wall adjacent to a public walkway that she needed for security," commissioner Donald McInnis said. "I just want you to remember that."