News

Preservationists throw in towel in fight over Steve Jobs' house

Uphold Our Heritage drops appeal of Steve Jobs' demolition permit

Click on pictures to enlarge.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

The end seems nearer than ever for the Jackling house, that rambling Jazz Age Woodside summer home designed by architect George Washington Smith for copper baron Daniel C. Jackling and owned since 1984 by Apple Corp. chief executive Steve Jobs, who's been trying since 2001 to replace it with something smaller and more modern.

Uphold Our Heritage, a group that sought to preserve the house as an important piece of Woodside history, on July 19 dropped its appeal of a March 2010 ruling by San Mateo County Superior Judge Marie S. Weiner that granted Mr. Jobs a demolition permit, said Doug Carstens, Uphold's attorney.

Uphold made this decision, he said, after Mr. Jobs did not respond to a proposal by Woodside residents Jason and Magalli Yoho to dismantle the house and move it from its current location at 460 Mountain Home Road to 215 Lindenbrook Road, a journey of about two miles.

It was "a really great proposal" in which the Yohos would have paid "a very large part of the relocation and restoration costs," Mr. Carstens told The Almanac.

The Yohos would have lived in the house and opened it to the public once a year, Uphold spokeswoman Clotilde Luce said in an e-mail. "Naturally," she added, she expected Mr. Jobs to "put in something" to help finance the move, but that the Yohos "were going to cover almost everything."

Had Mr. Jobs agreed to it, she said, it would have solved land-clearing problems and would have prevented adding to area landfills.

The "agreement" between the Yohos and Uphold, said Town Manager Susan George, was never formally presented to the town and included "many unilateral stipulations, including the town taking financial responsibility for the relocation of the house should the other parties fail to do so." Such stipulations would likely have doomed the proposal, she added.

Those stipulations were removed in a revised proposal, Mr. Carstens said.

"The town's involvement," Ms. George said when asked to comment, "was limited to attempting to process an application from the Yohos that would have allowed them to prepare their site for the Jackling house and (for) moving the house to the site. The application was never deemed complete and the Yohos dropped it after a point, so that was that."

The proposal might have advanced via an unsolicited offer of mediation by a program within the state appellate court in connection with Uphold's appeal of Judge Weiner's decision. The Yohos proposal could have been on the table, Mr. Carstens said. Uphold agreed to participate, he said. As for Mr. Jobs' response, his attorney Howard Ellman had no comment.

"That's the heart of the story," Mr. Carstens said. "If you can figure out why they rejected such a great proposal, that would be news."

Mr. Ellman, when asked if he had a comment on Uphold's decision to drop its appeal, replied: "No. The result speaks for itself. They abandoned the appeal and we're going forward."

Uphold's decision ends a multi-year effort in the courts to stop Mr. Jobs. Uphold succeeded in preventing the demolition in a 2004 lawsuit, a decision that Mr. Jobs appealed but that was upheld by the state Courts of Appeal in 2007. Mr. Jobs then modified his demolition plans to address the issues noted in the 2004 decision and won a judgment in March.

Ms. Luce, whose family owned the house in the 1960s and who now lives in Miami Beach, said that the town "will be deprived of this quite interesting piece of California history."

Earlier proposal

Gordon Smythe, a Palo Alto venture capitalist and a fan of homes designed by George Washington Smith, offered in 2009 to salvage parts of the house and use them in a new house at an undetermined site in California. That three-way agreement that included the town was contingent upon Uphold ending litigation, however, and that did not happen in time, Mr. Ellman said.

Mr. Carstens noted that while it was true that Uphold did not drop its litigation, Mr. Jobs never signed. And Mr. Carstens wondered why Mr. Jobs did not offer to consider the Yohos' proposal in lieu of Mr. Smythe's.

Commenting on the Smythe proposal to re-use parts of the house, Ms. Luce said: "Smith was an artist, this is a work of very sophisticated architecture. If you smash a Faberge egg and pick up some pieces, what have you 'saved'?"

In a biography on the website architect.com, Mr. Smith is cited as "one of that rare breed of architects who was able to produce buildings that were both subservient to their environment and at the same time able to project strong, beautiful forms into the landscape."

Orderly salvage

The town has hired architectural historian Michael R. Corbett to conduct an inventory of historically significant parts of the house. Preserving these items for posterity is a key condition of the demolition permit issued by the town in 2009.

Among the historically significant parts, according to a staff report, are a 50-foot flagpole, a copper mailbox, Spanish roof tiles, an organ and other features, including decorative tile, stone, woodwork, fireplace mantles, light fixtures and moldings.

Where these objects end up is a matter of first dibs, and that privilege goes to the town of Woodside in every case. Next listed in the report are the San Mateo County Historical Association, and the George Washington Smith collection at the art museum of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Mr. Corbett, who is now engaged in photographing the significant objects, will be succeeded by an expert on how to remove them safely, Ms. George told The Almanac. Copies of the completed inventory then go to the agencies noted above for review.

This sequence of events is likely to unfold over the next several weeks, Ms. George said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

I hope Steve Jobs takes an hour off from his busy schedule, looks over the paperwork ONCE AGAIN, and decides to say "BUG OFF" to everyone involved in this ridiculous example of self agrandisment involving architectual arts, and has the entire place RAZED in front of the entire group of cartoon preservationists.
It is junk. Jobs KNOWS it is junk.
He should now take one days earnings, and destroy all of the fantasies about and including this architectual mess while he has maintained an air of dignity and remained a true gentleman while the ladies in the flower print dresses denegrate his superior position.
TEAR IT DOWN and to hell with the trouble makers. Build the small home which you want, Steve. I KNOW they will hate whatever you put up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

At long last, sanity prevails.

But let's never forget that just a few motivated people were able to delay this project for NINE FULL YEARS and cost the homeowner hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of dollars in legal fees. All so unnecessary.

Not everyone has the financial resources of Mr. Jobs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Aug 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

This house is not an historical landmark although it gave "phonies" like Smythe a chance for great pr.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

These stereotypical fuddy duddies who say they are interested in the preservation of local landmarks, should put out a pamphlet or leaflet with photos, showing the GOOD they have done for the community.
Frankly, they should be putting their money to good use instead of spending it on experts to determine the value of the remains. It would be wise to use for the education for the children about the MISSIONS from the beginnings of California from the early days, and to educate rather than preserve what cannot qualify as history at this time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ace
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I am so sad that someone like Steve Jobs will get away with destroying a house that clearly comes within the preservation guidelines. He willfully let the house deteriorate after opening up all the doors and windows. It is such a shame and he is getting away with it. I have lost all respect for him as a result.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hard working Tax Payer
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

[Post deleted. Please stay on topic.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by FLloydwrong
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:30 am

Will someone please point out at least 10 of our local HISTORICAL LANDMARKS that weren't built by missionaries from Spain?
While you think of them, go and photograph them for our readers here.
If they amount to a "hill of beans", I will personally make chili for about 3 people.
IF that old piece of junk were saved, it would be destroyed in a little tremor. There is no OLD MONEY on the Peninsula. Just old people who live in the past. Think HSR.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A Fan of Freedom
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

Yes! This country is so filled with folks who believe that just because they think something should be a certain way then gosh-darnit it is going to be this way.

I feel badly for Mr. Jobs having to deal with this debacle. Mr. Jobs has contributed more to the benefit of our lives than these self-serving folks ever will. Yelling and protesting simply reveals their immaturity.

Tear it down, Mr. Jobs. Thanks for all you have contributed to this world.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frank de Jong
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm

A Federal law should be passed in reference to historical landmark lawsuits: Any person or organization objecting to the demolition of what they consider to be a "historical landmark" should be liable for all property taxes during the litigation process.

The almost decade long delay Mr. Jobs experienced, coupled with the expense of litigation, is obscene and should not be allowed in a country run by supposedly intelligent people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RightON
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2010 at 8:55 am

Frank de Jong has the best answer for these old tired and useless suits brought on for negligible and meaningless issues like preservation of lackluster spots; especially during these hard times.
Very selfish old biddies, I am sure.
Organize yourselves to serve the living, the poor, the infirm and the people who built this area from the ground who no longer have the means because of the banking scandals created by your spouses and children and others like you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sally
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 21, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Let's not hear anything more about this crazy & long time issue. Far too much space has been taken up & way too much money spent !!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hard Working Tax Payer
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 22, 2010 at 7:11 am

Mr. Jobs,

Don't you think it is time to change your registration to the political party that believes in individual property rights?

Don't you think it is time to abandon the political party that does not respect individual proeprty rights and wants to choke capitalism through over regulation putting the United States at a competitive disadsvantage with the rest of the world?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

Sally -

Actually, not enough light has been shed on this issue.

If you live in a home that was built before 1960 and want to do some remodeling, you should be worried. Homes over 50 years old can be subject to this same kind of review. Do you want some woman from Miami Beach to be able to stop your construction project dead in its tracks?

Then again, maybe you have the time and resources to fight a 10 year, multi-million dollar battle.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

Mr. Jobs
You have given more to us that anyone can even begin to understand. I hope you do not take the actions of a few to represent the understandingn and appreciation of most. We all know if it had the history claimed therein, myself along with others would have pitched in funds to move it - simply said it does not. You have been calm and patient while this resolved itself - Kudos to you and shame on others for the fight. Enjoy your new place with full understanding the vast majority of people (90/10 rule) respect you and appreciate you went through the process and waited it out. The 10-% - well as they say - you cannot please all the people all the time


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Here's something I don't understand: Why does anyone thank Steve Jobs for what he has "given" to us?

If we need a definition of a capitalist acting in his own interests and for his own benefit, Mr. Jobs would fit well, as would a hundred other chief executives.

By contrast, there are humanitarians out there whose lives are dedicated to giving to others. (Whether they are also acting in their own interests is an interesting question.)

This is not an indictment of Mr. Jobs. His company has broken new ground and set very high standards for product design. That's great for those of us with the money to buy them, and for the cause of good design everywhere. But is that a reason to thank him for having given us something? He has sold us something. There's a difference.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Joe -

Good points, but getting further off topic.

The bigger point here is a few people trying to tell private property owners what they can and cannot do with their homes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm


Based on S.J . He is used to getting what He wants , Obviously a Genius

and suffered through Pancreatic Cancer and + as well as treatments that

were not verifiable nor His diagnosis which Honestly is his own personal

business. These situations with Historic Places are never ever easy

I share the same birthday as S.J Picses (not that is important to

non-Astrology interested folks, but I have known two people

(personaly with the same birthday (though not year) and I can tell You

That He will not change. Look up Picses and also get his exac date of

birth year* 2/24 /19xx and go to Astrology.com and get a life reading

its about 10-15 pages and free and see if its like him if You have

dealt with him, there are far far many worse things going on in the

world as well as Heads of Companies He is a Enigma , I read a great

article on the CEO of J.Crew Mickey Drexler and He was on Apple's Board and at the time Mr.Drexler was working at a High Level Position

under The Gaps Legendary Founder Donald Fisher who tried and after several attempts got Mr.Drexler to come aboard (as He had successfully turned aroung Old Navy and then The Gap but in 2002 Steve Jobs' who was on the Board at The Gap and told Mickey DRexler He was going to be fired and in the Article in the June 2010 WSJ Wall Street Journal Magazine He said it was the best thing that happened to him (but he refuses to enter a Gap store to this day (he collected around $350 million dollars cashing in his Gap stock and when Donald Fisher was ill , they did have a nice last conversation (Mr.Fisher passed away in Sept 2009 and Mr.Drexler has a nice relationshio with the family at this point, Mr Fishers Son Robert who has served on The Gaps Board in some capacity since 1990 says theres no benefit in talking about Mickeys Last six months or Year, Its just a small part ofwhat was one of "the" great retail relationships Mickey is now the CEO of The Gap
along with 270 million dollars in J.Crew Stock and options as well as his departure $350 million from The Gap He says I will never have to worry about needing the money (He carries a Iphone and a Blackberry)
owns real estate including Andy Warhols fabled 5.6 acre estate called
Eothen for which he reportedly paid 27 million for in 2007 and is spending millions more to restore (in Montauk, N.Y) right on the water
as well as houses in The Bahamas Harbour Island, Idaho's Sun Valley and three in the Hamptons (of which one is Eothen) though He will not allow any of his homes (interiors ?) to be photographed as He does not want to labeled a "big shot"

I guess I wrote this is how many people in high positions (on The Board of Directors , Presidents of Companies, would tell a friend (in adavance) that they were being Fired Steve Jobs did do that and to me
thats Character .

Info from being a Long Time Mac -Apple user and from the great Wall Street Journal Magazine Aricle from the June 2010 issue.

Peace I Hope You all find its there...
David


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

Property rights have to mean something.

Sure, it would be nice if the home were preserved. But you want to see that, you should be willing to buy it. Beyond that, I applaud Mr. de Jong's suggestion above.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frederick F
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm

It is Job's property, so he has the right to do what he wishes with it. No one had the right to prevent him from clearing the property to build new.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Why I Became Active in Palo Alto Forward
By Steve Levy | 12 comments | 2,373 views

Early Decision Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 2,028 views

What Are Menlo Park’s Priorities?
By Erin Glanville | 32 comments | 1,306 views

Death with Dignity
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,174 views

Water Torture
By Paul Bendix | 1 comment | 433 views