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January 19, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Group sues to stop Jobs' tear-down of Jackling house Group sues to stop Jobs' tear-down of Jackling house (January 19, 2005)

By Andrea Gemmet

Almanac Staff Writer

The Jackling mansion, once a showplace for an extravagant copper magnate and now an abandoned house detested by its owner, has one more stop before its date with demolition or removal to a friendlier locale -- court.

A group of historic preservationists is suing Steve Jobs and the town of Woodside to stop the demolition of the 1928 Daniel C. Jackling house on Mountain Home Road.

The demolition permit sought by Mr. Jobs, who has owned the house for about 20 years, was approved by the Woodside Town Council last month, with the stipulation that he first attempt to give away the massive Spanish colonial-style house to someone who will relocate it and restore it.

Mr. Jobs, who called the George Washington Smith-designed Jackling house "an abomination," said he plans to build a smaller, more congenial house for his family on the site.

A lawsuit was filed January 14 in San Mateo County Superior Court by Uphold Our Heritage, said the group's president, Clotilde Luce, a Miami Beach resident whose family owned the Jackling house in the 1960s.

She was one of three people, including two Woodside residents, who filed an appeal to the Woodside Town Council to try to save the house from demolition. The council, upholding an earlier Planning Commission decision, denied the appeal 4-3 at the December 14 meeting.

"You can imagine being there in the 1930s when they had all these movie stars there -- it really was a time of elegance and opulence," said Barbara Wood of the Jackling house.

Ms. Wood is a member of Uphold Our Heritage as well as the Woodside History Committee, and is a columnist for the Almanac.

"If somebody wanted to live in a house that was a showplace, this house would be it," she said. "If this house were restored, it would be magnificent."

Howard Ellman, Mr. Jobs' attorney, said he had not yet seen the petition and had no comment. Woodside Town Hall was closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and officials could not be reached for comment before the Almanac's press deadline.

Since Woodside currently has no rules regarding historic preservation on the books, the only thing standing between the Jackling house and the wrecking ball are the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a law that offers some legal protections to cultural resources, including historically significant structures.

The Jackling house is considered historically significant because of its association with Mr. Jackling, a mining engineer who revolutionized the copper industry, and because of its architectural value, according to an environmental impact report commissioned for the property.

According to the lawsuit, the Woodside Town Council acted illegally when it approved the demolition permit for the Jackling house because, under CEQA, feasible alternatives existed, including restoration of the house or sale of the property to a preservation-minded owner.

As fodder for its arguments against the demolition, the lawsuit cites the analysis of Woodside's own town staff and its legal consultant, Susan Brandt-Hawley, and their recommendation to deny the demolition permit. Alternatives to demolition include restoration and renovation to make the house suitable for a modern family, they said.

"Mr. Jobs' request for demolition of the historic Jackling house in order to build a different style of single-family residence is akin to a proposal to plow up a field of unique endangered plants in order to sow a new garden. New gardens can be planted on other ground," Ms. Brandt-Hawley wrote to the Woodside Planning Commission in May 2004.

Uphold Our Heritage is being represented by Santa Monica-based Chatten-Brown & Associates.

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