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Woodside meets tonight on Jackling house

 

Woodside's Town Council meets tonight to consider approving a contract between Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and a venture capitalist with the aim of resolving a longtime dispute over an 85-year-old mansion in town known as the Jackling house.

Mr. Jobs wants to tear down the mansion and build a modern house on the site, but he has been blocked in court by a preservationist group called Uphold our Heritage.

As part of a new deal, Palo Alto venture capitalist Gordon Smythe has offered to take significant parts of the house and use them in a new home. Woodside's council has agreed to grant Mr. Jobs a demolition permit on the condition that Mr. Jobs and Mr. Smythe go forward with this plan.

A new lawsuit by Uphold Our Heritage could put the plan on hold. A spokeswoman for the law firm representing Uphold said it had no comment.

The council meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

Judge's order

Meanwhile, a Superior Court judge has given Uphold our Heritage until Aug. 3 to explain why Mr. Jobs should not be allowed to proceed with the demolition.

Mr. Jobs and the town of Woodside will have until Aug. 19 to respond to any objections by Uphold, then Uphold must prepare a brief by Aug. 30, with a hearing set for Sept. 10, Woodside Town Attorney Jean Savaree said in an interview.

The order came from San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Marie S. Weiner, the same judge who, in 2006, ruled for Uphold in a lawsuit that invalidated Mr. Jobs' first demolition permit.

In that case, the judge found that Mr. Jobs had not proven the economic hardship of the various alternatives to demolishing the house, including the cost of restoring it and either living in it or moving it to another site. His new plans include such a study.

Asked about the outcome if Uphold did not raise substantial objections by Aug. 3, Mr. Savaree replied: "If they can't articulate one, my guess is that (the judge) would say, 'We're done.'"

Mr. Smythe, a longtime fan of Jackling house architect George Washington Smith, said he is assembling a team to carefully remove historically significant parts of the house and use them in a new home at a cost of $4 million to $6 million at a site yet to be determined. Mr. Jobs would pay the estimated $605,000 to deconstruct the house.

Mr. Smythe would have five years to find a site, after which the parts of the house could be offered to interested parties, including the town of Woodside and the county historical museum.

Uphold spokeswoman Clotilde Luce sent The Almanac a statement that said the Smythe proposal was chosen "because it asks nothing" of Mr. Jobs.

"UOH has not been shown Mr. Smythe's plans, but from what we know, they do not even meet (Mr. Jobs' attorney Howard) Ellman's previously stated criteria that there be 'a definitive commitment suitably backed with financial ability to perform on a site acceptable to your principles,'" the statement said.

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