Steve Jobs Battles Preservationists; Stays Home from City Council Meeting

In addition to his wars with Research in Motion, Microsoft, and his own health, Steve Jobs is also in the midst of a fight against preservationists whoa re trying to prevent him from demolishing a Palo Alto mansion he owns. The case, which has been going on for years, was back in the Palto Alto City Council meeting Tuesday night, and event Mr. Jobs didn't attend, as his attorney said he wasn't strong enough to handle the meeting if it lasted too long.

"I don't think he would be strong enough if we were here until 1:00 AM, and I think there's a strong possibility of that," attorney Howard Ellman said of Mr. Jobs, according to a San Jose Mercury News report. The meeting did last well into the night, with deliberations still continuing at 10:30 PM local time.

Daniel C. Jackling
Daniel C. Jackling

At issue is a 17,000 square foot house built in 1925 by Daniel C. Jackling, a pioneering miner who made his fortune in copper mines in Utah. Preservationists want to preserve the house, either through on-site restoration or through moving it to another locations.

Mr. Jobs wants to demolish it to make way for a smaller home for him and his family. the City of Palo Alto backs Mr. Jobs' plans, and gave him the necessary permits in 2004, according to the Mercury News.

Preservationists sued to halt the project, however, and the courts sided with them, saying that Palo Alto had not provided estimates of what it would cost to preserve the house. Without providing those numbers, the city had argued that preserving it would simply cost too much.

Tuesday's hearing was centered around detailed cost projections prepared by third-party consultants for Mr. Jobs. According to those projections, the preservation project would cost US$13.1 million, $5.1 million more than Mr. Jobs is planning on spending on the new home.

That number is also just over the $5 million bar the courts had suggested might be enough for them to allow the project to continue. Preservationists at the meeting, however, want independent consultants to do their own projections, and thus the battle continues.