Preservationists have won the latest round in the lengthy legal fight over the fate of a historic mansion in Woodside owned by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and CEO of Pixar.
The Jackling house, a 1920s mansion designed by noted architect George Washington Smith, was slated for demolition until an ad hoc group of historic preservationists called Uphold Our Heritage stepped in, claiming that the approval of the demolition violated state law.
So far, the group has prevailed in court, despite several appeals filed by attorneys for Mr. Jobs who took the case all the way to the state Supreme Court.
In the latest wrinkle, the California First District Court of Appeals on Nov. 12 upheld an award of more than $400,000 to cover attorneys' fees incurred by Uphold Our Heritage.
The court ruled that the group is entitled to recover its fees because "the litigation resulted in the enforcement of an important public right by stopping the demolition of the historic residence."
Howard Ellman, the San Francisco attorney representing Mr. Jobs, did not return The Almanac's phone calls seeking comment.
Clotilde Luce, a member of Uphold Our Heritage and whose family once owned the Jackling house, said in an e-mail that she's grateful to attorneys Jan Chatten-Brown and Doug Carstens for taking on such a time-consuming case with no assurance that they'd be fully paid for their work. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's West Coast office participated in the lawsuit, further proof of the Jackling house's historic importance, she said.
"(I) am very impressed by the thoroughness and probity the courts have to exercise," Ms. Luce told The Almanac.
Mr. Jobs has owned the Jackling house since 1984. He lived in it for about 10 years, but since 2000 it has been unoccupied and left derelict. The 17,000-plus-square-foot mansion was built in the Spanish colonial revival style and includes custom copper features made for its owner, copper magnate Daniel C. Jackling. Mr. Smith, the architect, is best known for his work in the Santa Barbara area.
In 2001, Mr. Jobs requested permission to tear down the house and replace it with a family home more to his taste, triggering a review required under the portion of the California Environmental Quality Act that deals with historically significant buildings. He won the town's permission in December 2004, following an appeal to the Woodside Town Council. Preservationists halted the demolition with their lawsuit, which prevailed in San Mateo Superior Court in January 2006 and was upheld upon appeal.