I’m pleased to announce that Steve Jobs has lost his long and bitter struggle to demolish the historic Jackling House in Woodside, CA. The house was built by Daniel Jackling, a mining magnate in 1923. It was designed by renowned California architect George Washington Smith (who was responsible for Santa Barbara’s “Spanish hacienda” style). For further background, see my earlier post about the campaign to save Jackling.
California Superior Court judge Marie Weiner ruled yesteday (December 28th) that the Woodside town council acted in bad faith in granting Jobs a demolition permit:
The administrative record reflects a severe lack of evidence supporting any and all findings that the EIR alternatives are “economically unjustifiable” or economically infeasible.
All of this is unknown to the Town Council and thus their finding of economic infeasiblity is not supported by substantial evidence, and was arbitrary and capricious. This was an abuse of discretion.
What the Town of Woodside has approved is the utter antithesis of its existing General Plan. .. The theme of the General Plan is one of conservation, preservation, and certainly maintenance of existing structures. It is arbitrary and capricious for the Town of Woodside to imply or interpellate the provisions of the General Plan contrary to its express components.
Such findings simply demonstrate the Town Council’s exaggerated efforts to find a means to the end that Jobs seeks.
In regard to the “conditions” placed upon the demolition permit [that Jobs take a year to find someone willing to move the house off-site] , there has been no showing that these conditions are actually enforceable. Jobs is the sole decision maker in determining whether or not to accept any proposals for relocation.
Woodside made a finding that the EIR alternative to have the house relocated to another site was not feasible, yet it required that efforts be made to see if the house could be relocated to another site to a willing taker. This demonstrates the absurdity of the “findings” of infeasibility made by Woodside.
Accordingly the finding of overriding consideration was not supported by substantial evidence, and the granting of the demolition permit by Woodside to Jobs was an abuse of discretion.
–decision provided by Uphold Our Heritage
This is a preliminary ruling which could be amended by the judge before it is made final in ten days. But it is almost a certainty that Jackling House is safe.
Jobs has owned the house for several decades and allowed it to fall into serious disrepair. Preservationists have speculated that Jobs deliberately allowed it to deteriorate in order to strengthen his claim that the only solution would be to tear it down.
Now Jobs is faced with some serious choices. Either he can sell the house, renovate it (which would be an interesting choice considering that he has publicly said that he “detests” it), or abandon it allowing its condition to worsen even further. The last choice would be quite cruel and mean-spirited (at least as far as the house is concerned), but Jobs has shown a great deal of malice during the campaign to save the house so I wouldn’t put it past him.
Great congratulations go to Clotilde Luce and Uphold Our Heritage for waging a brilliant campaign (with the help of Chatten-Brown Carstens, a law firm specializing in cases involving the California Environmental Quality Act). This is a huge victory for historic preservation. It should be a lesson for cities (like mine here in Seattle) which have essentially almost no housing regulations intended to preserve existing housing stock (and especially historic homes). Preserve it or lose it!