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Council reaches agreement on Jackling house

Steve Jobs granted conditional permit to tear down house built in 1925

The Woodside Town Council on a 5-2 vote Tuesday night granted a conditional demolition permit to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which technically gives him the go-ahead to tear down the Jackling house, built in 1925 by noted architect George Washington Smith.

The council's one condition would require Gordon Smythe, a managing partner at Palo Alto-based Propel Partners, and Jobs to sign a contract that would allow Smythe to deconstruct historically significant parts of the house with the intention of using them to rebuild the house at a yet-to-be determined site.

Jobs is ready to sign, according to his attorney, Howard Ellman. A judicial case-management conference is scheduled for July 10, where, he said, he will sound out the preservationists on a settlement. Ellman said Jobs would like to avoid further litigation.

The contract would be good for 60 days, more or less, Ellman said. Smythe "is flexible on this number," Ellman added.

The time limit, and an escape clause in the contract, are designed to allow Smythe to escape the contract if the preservationists who have fought to save the house chose not to use this deal as a settlement and decide to sue Jobs again. A 2004 court order invalidated the council's first demolition permit and stopped the destruction of the house.

"I just want an out," Smythe told the council. "I don't want to get caught up in this."

Smythe estimated the deconstruction costs at $604,000. He's been working on finding a site for the house for two and a half years and has assembled a deconstruction team, some of whose members would also be involved in reconstructing the house, he told the Woodside council.

His search for a site has included the Bay Area, Southern California, and Santa Barbara, he said, with his most recent investigation taking him to Palm Springs. The new house should be on a property of at least 10 acres, he said, adding: "This house should not be crammed in somewhere, but it's difficult to find a great piece of land."

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