Almanac

News - February 24, 2010

Another lifeline for Woodside house owned by Steve Jobs

by Dave Boyce

A new savior has come on the scene with a draft proposal to rescue Woodside's historic Jackling house from oblivion, its possible fate if owner and Apple Corp. chief executive Steve Jobs is not presented with a viable alternative to tearing down the 1925-vintage mansion and replacing it with something more modern.

Woodside residents Jason and Magalli Yoho have offered to relocate the house to 215 Lindenbrook Road from its current location on Robles Drive, according to a Dec. 21 letter to the couple from Woodside Senior Planner Deborah Dory.

The new site is in Woodside and about two miles away, just west of Interstate 280 and north of Woodside Road.

The matter comes before the town on Tuesday, Feb. 23, when the Town Council is set to confer in closed session on developments related to a 2004 lawsuit brought against Mr. Jobs and the town by Uphold Our Heritage, a preservation-minded group that has fought Mr. Jobs' plans to replace the house.

The council is expected to report out of its closed session at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at the corner of Woodside and Whiskey Hill roads.

The town has not yet received a formal proposal from the Yohos, Town Manager Susan George said. If and when it comes, it would trigger several significant procedural steps, but ultimate authority to go forward lies with Mr. Jobs, as the property owner.

This is the most recent ray of hope for the deteriorating and weathered house. Legal wrangling has run out the clock on a July 2009 three-way proposal among Mr. Jobs, the town and Gordon Smythe, a Palo Alto venture capitalist and enthusiast of Jackling house architect George Washington Smith.

Mr. Smythe had offered to dismantle parts of the house and reuse them in a new family home, if he were to find a "great piece of land" on which to build. Mr. Smythe and the town had signed the agreement, but it terminated after 60 days. It's unclear whether Mr. Jobs ever signed it.

Mr. Jobs lost in court, but the matter remains unresolved in part over whether Mr. Jobs, still seeking to replace the house, took steps that satisfy the court's original concerns in ruling against him.

In any case, the Yohos' proposal would need review by the town's History Committee, the Architectural and Site Review Board and the Planning Commission, Ms. Dory said in her letter.

The project would also require analyses of its environmental impact and the viability of moving it from its current location on a flat piece of land to what would be a slope, Ms. Dory said.

Representatives of Uphold did not have a comment on the proposal.

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