Woodside: Plans for Jackling House site headed for review

Small structures and a large footprint on nine acres.

Big changes are planned for the site of the former Jackling House on Mountain Home Road in Woodside. The property was home to a two-story, 17,250-square-foot mansion built in the mid-1920s for copper-mining entrepreneur Daniel Jackling.

On Monday, Jan. 11, plans that include a main house and eight accessory structures were to go before the town's Architectural and Site Review Board for formal review. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road.

The house came down in February 2011 at the direction of its owner, the late Steve Jobs, concluding an epic 10-year battle, fought mainly in court, between the owner and groups wanting to preserve the house as a piece of architectural history.

Construction on a new single-story house and accessory structures is expected to begin soon. Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' widow, will oversee the development.

The new complex would have considerable floor area -- 15,689 square feet -- but less than the mansion had.

The main house would be 3,706 square feet and L-shaped; it would have two wings connected by a covered breezeway, a staff report says.

One wing would have a vegetated "green" roof. A 2,941-square-foot basement, used for mechanical equipment, utilities and storage, would connect to another basement under a yoga studio.

The seven other accessory structures are a sauna, two guest houses, a wine press, an olive press, a garden shed and a garden barn, the report says. The barn would include a greenhouse and a harvest/kitchen area along with a basement that extends under the wine and olive presses. The property includes an olive grove and a vineyard, the report says.

The planned project also includes a hot tub, a plunge pool and a swimming pool with three cabanas.

The floor area would take up 90.6 percent of the total allowable floor area of 17,307 square feet for a a 9-acre property. Every structure uses less than the maximum allowed floor area, and the roofs of all but one are below allowable heights, the report says.

The property will combine 6 acres at the Mountain Home Road site with 3 adjacent acres at a Robles Drive site, the report says. Two amendments are needed to bring the land-use designations of the Robles Drive property up to the more environmentally sensitive designations at the Mountain Home site. Both amendments, and related environmental determinations, require approval by the Town Council.

'An abomination'

Mr. Jobs bought the Jackling House in 1984 and lived in it for 10 years, but eventually abandoned it, saying at one point that he considered it "an abomination." After he left, windows and doors were found open, the roof leaked, and mold and dry rot were taking hold, according to an architectural survey of the house.

In 2004, the town's Planning Commission, on a 4-3 vote, granted Mr. Jobs a demolition permit, and the Town Council, also on a 4-3 vote, upheld the commission's decision, but with a condition: Demolition could proceed if Mr. Jobs could not find someone to dismantle the house and rebuild it somewhere else.

Architect George Washington Smith designed the Jackling House. "Historically, he's one of the most significant architects of the period of revival in the 1920s," Pamela Post, an architectural historian based in Santa Barbara, told the Almanac at the time. Mr. Smith designed many houses in Santa Barbara, where they are highly prized, Ms. Post said.

In 2005, a group called Uphold Our Heritage sued Mr. Jobs and the town of Woodside in San Mateo County Superior Court over the demolition permit and won. The judge called the town's decision "arbitrary and capricious" and not reflecting "a proper exercise of discretion." Mr. Jobs appealed and lost.

The house qualified for listing on the state's historic register, which brought into the discussion the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The act extends protections to historical structures and other "cultural resources."

Judges in the trial court and appeals court said the town had not met the act's standard of proof that there were no feasible alternatives to demolition. Mr. Jobs modified his demolition plans to address the judges' complaints and won a judgment in March 2010. Uphold Our Heritage filed an appeal, but dropped it in July of that year.

Offers had come forward to dismantle and move the house, but agreement by Mr. Jobs was required. Attorneys involved with the case said one proposal failed because ongoing litigation made an agreement impossible, and another failed because Mr. Jobs did not respond.

The house was destroyed, but not without rescuing salvageable items. The town acquired several of the mansion's historically significant elements, including a 50-foot flagpole, a mailbox, roof tiles, an organ, woodwork, fireplace mantles, light fixtures and moldings.

The Woodside Community Museum put some of the artifacts on display in 2011 in the exhibit "Days of Grandeur: The Jacklings and their Woodside Estate."

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Like this comment
Posted by sheldon breiner
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

sheldon breiner is a registered user.

Jackling house site in Woodside off of Roberta Drive is only 50 yards from the active San Andreas fault, which is monitored and moving all the time at a mm/yr. See aerial view at Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Davis
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 11, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Mr Breiner, your point is?

Like this comment
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 12, 2016 at 4:05 am

I wonder about Mr Breiner's point as well. Still, it is a pretty interesting factoid. A couple of things though: I'm not sure about the reliability of Mr. Breiner's map.

Here is a google map of the San Andreas plotted by experts using USGS data which places the Jacklin house on the Pacific Plate side of the fault (Mr Breiner's has it on the North America plate side): Web Link

I would also observe that based on the geologic record, the San Andreas fault has been moving at more like 16mm/year (about 2/3 of an inch) over the course of the millenia.

Anyway, I'd say it just all validates Steve's wisdom to rebuild with the application of modern building codes and technology.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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