Steve Jobs: Champion of Property Rights, Fights Against Historical Designation In Order To Build His iHouse

August 19th, 2010

I am hardly an Apple fanboy, but I now a bigger fan of Steven Jobs than I was before.

For the past 25 years Steve Jobs has sought to tear down an old house in order to renovate it. The only problem is the historical preservationists would not let him because the house was a historic landmark.

From the NY Times back in 2004:

In what could become America’s highest-profile tear-down, Mr. Jobs, the Apple and Pixar chief executive, is seeking this town’s permission to hit the delete button on the 1926 Daniel C. Jackling estate, a moldering manse designed by George Washington Smith, the architect who created the look of Montecito and Santa Barbara in the 1920’s.

The house, built for Mr. Jackling, a copper magnate who died in 1956, sits on six wooded acres that Mr. Jobs, then 29, purchased in 1983. Preservationists have deemed the house historic, an important example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, one that currently stands empty and derelict at the end of a stone-lined cul-de-sac.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation did not agree with Jobs, and wanted him to live elsewhere. Chutzpah!

The debate over the Jackling estate has pitted preservationists from Woodside and beyond against those, like Mr. Jobs and many property owners here, who argue that a man’s home is his castle and if the castle happens to be an outdated white elephant its fate should be his to determine. Historians say the house qualifies for the California Register of Historic Resources and therefore merits protection under the state’s Environmental Quality Act. ”It’s a significant house and it can continue to serve the community,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. ”It’s symptomatic of a discard society. He ought to buy another lot.’

After several years of fighting, the preservationists threw in the towel, and dropped the appeal of Steve Jobs’ demolition permit.

Uphold Our Heritage, a group that sought to preserve the house as an important piece of Woodside history, on July 19 dropped its appeal of a March 2010 ruling by San Mateo County Superior Judge Marie S. Weiner that granted Mr. Jobs a demolition permit, said Doug Carstens, Uphold’s attorney.

Huzzah! iHouse FTW.

Jobs, who “almost died” while waiting for a liver transplant may be interested in extending his respect for property to supporting organ markets. Just a thought.