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Welcome to the People’s Republic of California: Steve Jobs cannot tear down his own house

Palo Alto Online:

The California Supreme Court does not want to hear about Steve Jobs’ quest to tear down a historic Woodside mansion. On April 25, the state’s high court turned down Jobs’ petition to hear his case.

Jobs, the CEO of Apple Inc., has been waging a losing battle against a group of preservationists over the fate of the Jackling house, a massive Spanish Colonial revival-style mansion built in 1926.

He said he plans to tear it down and build a new family home on the Mountain Home Road site, but has been thwarted by an ad-hoc preservation group called Uphold Our Heritage that filed suit to block the demolition

Jobs was granted a demolition permit by the town of Woodside in December 2004.

Uphold Our Heritage, led by Miami Beach resident Clotilde Luce, whose family owned the Jackling house in the 1960s, successfully halted the demolition, wining its case in both the trial court and appeals court.

Luce called yesterday’s state Supreme Court’s decision good news for preservationists.

Howard Ellman, Jobs’ attorney, could not be immediately reached for comment.

[....]

Jobs has said that he plans to build a much smaller family home on the site, and referred to the Jackling house, where he lived for 10 years, as an architectural “abomination.” In recent years, the Jackling house has been uninhabited and allowed to fall into disrepair.

If you find your mind entertaining any sort of idea that begins with the words, “Yeah, but,” I will show you the path to a perfect understanding of perfect justice:

Imagine a battalion of busybodies were telling you what you could and could not do with your property.

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  • 18 comments

    18 Comments so far

    1. Chuchundra April 30th, 2007 3:28 pm

      Um…is this sort of thing new to you? Do they not have zoning laws and historic preservation districts where you live?

    2. Greg Swann April 30th, 2007 3:37 pm

      > Um…is this sort of thing new to you?

      Unfortunately, no.

      > Do they not have zoning laws and historic preservation districts where you live?

      Unfortunately, yes.

      The particular story illustrates how criminally insane these laws are.

    3. John C. Randolph April 30th, 2007 4:39 pm

      So this Luce character wants the house to remain there. Too bad his family SOLD IT decades ago. Now, he leads a charge to deprive a citizen of his right to dispose of his property as he sees fit.

      To hell with him.

      -jcr

    4. Ben April 30th, 2007 5:00 pm

      If you own a property, you should do whatever you want–within reason. The original owners had their chance to mothball the house. They waived that chance when they SOLD the house. The fact that total strangers are telling another citizen what to do with the property is shocking. I hope a herd of runaway elephants levels the property.

    5. S April 30th, 2007 5:10 pm

      I would recommend taking a look at the house, too – it is an architectural masterpiece http://blog.ikodu.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/jobs.jpg. Perhaps not everyone can see it but it is art and history, and has to be preserved.

    6. Greg Swann April 30th, 2007 5:13 pm

      > it is art and history, and has to be preserved.

      Once you have bought and paid for it, you can do what you want with it. Until then, you are expressing a desire to commit theft by proxy.

    7. Sock Puppet April 30th, 2007 6:19 pm

      I hear candles shouldn’t be left unattended…

    8. Christoph Schweiger April 30th, 2007 8:26 pm

      I know the feeling, however we knew about the limitations what we can do and cannot do with our home before we bought it. There is to say that I would be very curious to see what happens if I parked a crane with a wrecking ball in my front yard……

    9. Greg Swann April 30th, 2007 9:07 pm

      > I would be very curious to see what happens if I parked a crane with a wrecking ball in my front yard

      One could argue that if you bought the property with the historic designation in place, then you knowingly bought an entailed deed, much as if you had bought into an HOA entailed by CC&Rs. This doesn’t apply to Jobs’ home. It was entailed by fiat after he bought it. Consider also the landowners on Central Ave (in Phoenix) who got hit with a zoning overlay that deprived them of many higher and better uses of their land a couple of years ago. I hate this crap post hoc, but how about being robbed by your neighbors in real time?

    10. Brian Brady April 30th, 2007 11:03 pm

      Greg,

      Deed restrictions, while a nuisance, are a part of a property. I hate them because they go against the spirit of private property rights.

      Now here’s the rub: Historical properties are deemed to be useful to the common good; there is nothing wrong with that. The proper course of action, however, should be for the State to purchase the property (after approved by a public vote) and leased to willing occupants.

      What will happen to these State-owned historical properties? Look at the condition of California’s missions.
      http://feinstein.senate.gov/04Releases/r-missions.html

    11. Brian Brady April 30th, 2007 11:05 pm

      “It was entailed by fiat after he bought it”

      I didn’t notice that part. That is a simple abuse of State powers. At least confiscation by eminent domain would have compensated Jobs.

    12. S May 1st, 2007 12:48 am

      Know the value your history!

      In any case, the real estate agents should be more aware of the heritage office work. Certainly not act surprised if something like that happens. They should be warning their clients – if you are buying an architecturally significant building, there is always a possibility it might have to be preserved for the future generations to see and admire.

    13. Greg Swann May 1st, 2007 7:13 am

      > Know the value your history!

      See, that’s the point: I do know the value of history. I live in a country that was founded by people who were sick to death of being pushed around by pretend-aristocrats with guns. If more people knew how to value that history, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    14. Brian Brady May 1st, 2007 3:46 pm

      “if you are buying an architecturally significant building, there is always a possibility it might have to be preserved for the future generations to see and admire”

      This is why our state is sometimes accused of Socialist tactics. If we are to value a property for its historical relevance, why not purchase with State funds it after it is approved by a public vote?

      The answer lies within Greg’s last comment except this time the pretend aristocrats use the stacked judiciary instead of guns. Te elite few who want to “preserve” the property would lose at the polls.

    15. CJ, Broker in L A, CA May 2nd, 2007 6:07 am

      My little corner of Los Angeles is now covered by an HPOZ. But the – how shall I say – The Patchwork Quilt of Social Imbalance created by unplanned development prior to the HPOZ – is interesting.

      For example, picture a grand old 1920s 2-story craftsman style home – now restored – and recently sold in the 700s – sitting right next door to a boxy 1960s vintage apartment building now fully occupied by Section 8 tenants.

      The owners of the craftsman park their cars in their garage behind locked gates. The residents of the apartment building do not have adequate parking, since there are usually 5 or 6 car-driving adults to each unit. They park an assortment of vehicles in various stages of disrepair on the street, where they tend to leak oil and slough off other debris.

      This scenario is repeated block after block, street after street. And maybe this is more of an argument for proper planning and zoning control, but there you are. I am not arguing either side of the issue, just pointing out an observation.

    16. Greg Swann May 2nd, 2007 6:28 am

      > I am not arguing either side of the issue, just pointing out an observation.

      I’ll give you this: It’s an excellent argument against Section 8…

    17. Franz @ Blue Collar Agents May 3rd, 2007 6:54 am

      Uphold Our Heritage, led by Miami Beach resident Clotilde Luce, whose family owned the Jackling house in the 1960s, successfully halted the demolition, wining its case in both the trial court and appeals court.

      So basically they sold the property but still feel they should have control over it 40 years later… nice.

      Yes, unfortunately this crap does happen all the time, here are a few examples from here in Maine.

    18. Thomas Johnson May 31st, 2007 7:54 am

      Smoking in bed…Smoking in bed…Smoking in bed… nothing more relaxing than: Smoking in bed.