The Horse is out of the Barn (or a Moo-ving Story)

March 27, 2006

A few weeks ago, the San Mateo Superior Court ruled against the Town and Steve Jobs with regard to the EIR for the demolition of the Jackling House. The issue for us is not so much whether the house should be demolished or saved but why the Town couldn’t do it right.

Staff recommended against the demolition, but both the Planning Commission and the Council approved the demolition permit. Maybe because they disagreed, staff didn’t properly advise the Council on what was needed to adopt a resolution with supportable findings.

Under environmental laws, the fact that a building is historic doesn’t prevent demolition if there are no feasible alternatives and proper findings of overriding considerations are made. It’s troubling to hear that a Judge found that our Council hadn’t made the proper findings, but was instead acting arbitrarily and capriciously and that they abused their discretion.

The Court questioned the Council’s interpretation of the general plan. That also gives us pause. If the general plan does not reflect the proper balance of priorities supported by this community, it needs to be amended. If it does strike the right balance, then it concerns us that the Council does not understand its own general plan.

The Council made a finding that the alternative given in the EIR, having the house relocated to another site was not feasible, yet as a condition of issuing the permit, it required that efforts be made to see if the house could be relocated to another site to a willing taker. The Court properly called this an absurdity. What an embarrassment.

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