Woodside council green lights new complex for Jackling House site

Proposed basement ordinance gets thorough going-over

In a break from routine, the Woodside Town Council heard positive words Tuesday night from an applicant about the residential design review processes employed by the town's Architectural and Site Review Board and Planning Commission.

A unanimous council amended the town's general plan and zoning code, as recommended by the review board and Planning Commission, to accommodate a merger of two adjoining parcels, including one that was once the site of the Jackling House, owned by the late Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, plans a new 3,706-square-foot house, one wing with a vegetated "green" roof, and eight accessory structures: a sauna, yoga studio, two guest houses, a wine press, an olive press, a garden shed and a garden barn.

"This has been a very long road for us," Ken Morrison, representing Ms. Powell Jobs, told the council and Town Hall staff. "Since 2001, we've been working on this project and I hope that you're happy with the end result that we have here. I know many of you have been on this ride together for the whole time. I appreciate your support and guidance in developing a project that I think we can all be proud of."

Mayor Deborah Gordon said she visited the site recently. "It was delightful to see what a wonderful and thoughtful project it was, I have to say," she said.

Councilman Tom Livermore, a former Planning Commission member and a member of the review board while this project was in process, said it's "a testament to how much good planning can produce such a project, especially one that fits into the community so well." It's sustainable, he said, "and it's as green as a project can be."

Plans for the site include basements under the house, the yoga studio, and the wine and olive presses, another topic that the council considered last night, at length.

Basement discussion

The council discussed but did not vote on an ordinance that would have regulated the size and location of basements.

Among the issues: How much of a basement can be built outside the footprint of the building above it? How deep can the basement be? Can it be built in or near setback areas? What parts of a basement can be built in areas where there is no structure above it, such as tunnels, patios and egress/light wells?

The town has no regulations on the size and location of basements. The council is acting after a spike in the number of applications to build basements, some with designs that are increasingly sophisticated and massive, including tunnels connecting underground rooms.

The council examined draft regulations one by one in a spirited discussion of almost four hours, and gave town staff extensive comment on redrafting the ordinance. The matter is expected to return to the council soon for further discussion if not action.

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