Thursday, January 5, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
WOODSIDE/Steve Jobs blocked from demolishing 1920s mansion/Judge calls council's decision arbitrary and capricious
Dave Murphy, Chronicle Staff Writer
A San Mateo County judge has at least temporarily blocked Steve Jobs' effort to demolish a Woodside home that had been built for a copper magnate in the 1920s.
Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner sided with preservationists who sued Woodside's town government after it granted Jobs permission to demolish the 17,000-square-foot Jackling House, a Spanish Colonial Revival home designed by noted architect George Washington Smith and built for copper baron Daniel C. Jackling.
Jobs' attorney, Howard Ellman, said he will probably appeal. Weiner said in her tentative ruling that Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar, did not present a design for the home that would replace the Jackling House, which he bought in 1984. He said only that he wanted to build a smaller home more suitable for his family, but the judge said not enough information was provided to make it clear that all alternatives except demolition were economically unjustifiable, as the Town Council and Planning Commission had determined.
"That the alternatives may cost millions of dollars is not enough information as it has no context," Weiner wrote. "It is certainly possible that Jobs may ultimately seek to build a house which costs more than simply rehabilitating the existing house -- a house he previously lived in for 10 years.
"All of this is unknown to the Town Council," the judge said, "and thus their finding of economic infeasibility is not supported by substantial evidence, and was arbitrary and capricious. This was an abuse of discretion."
Although Woodside has no historic preservation laws, town officials were split. Some of them said the home could be moved or restored, while others said it would be unfair to require Jobs to restore a home that carried no historic designation. The home has been vacant more than five years.
Weiner's ruling cheered members of Uphold Our Heritage, the group that filed the lawsuit.
"It's big, but it's not pretentious in the least," said Stanford English Professor John Felstiner, who had rented the top floor of the home from 1965 to 1971 with his wife.
Clotilde Luce, who lived in the mansion as a child in the 1960s, said she is optimistic that something can be worked out to save the home. "I knew I was living in something really exceptional," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. E-mail Dave Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTION TO SAVE THIS HOUSE AND HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
HELP WITH A DONATION TOWARDS OUR LEGAL COSTS
ABOUT THE ARCHITECT AND THIS HOUSE
PRESS ON THE JACKLING HOUSE
PHOTO GALLERY: THE HOUSE THEN & NOW
MORE ON THE JACKLING HOUSE
ACROSS THE COUNTRY PEOPLE THINK IT MATTERS TO SAVE THIS HOUSE
FROM THE PUBLIC RECORD: LETTERS OF SUPPORT
BACK TO HOMEPAGE