Apple CEO Steve Jobs is offering to give away his historic house – but there's a catch.

America's pre-eminent CEO has been locked in battle with planning officials in Woodside. Jobs has owned a $3.5 million mansion (460 Mountain Home Road) in Woodside for twenty years. He lived there with his sister for a while before he moved to Palo Alto, but thinks the house is a "dump" and wants to pull it down to build "a much smaller house for his family".

However, town planners have stamped a preservation order on the property, insisting Jobs respect the 1920s Mission Revival style house's historic and environmental value.

City planners met on June 16 to decide if Jobs would be allowed to demolish this old house.

During the meeting Jobs' attorney Howard Ellman told planning commissioners that Jobs would "not only be willing to give the house away, but that he might even contribute to the cost of removing it," according to The Almanac.

"Steve is perfectly prepared to cooperate with anyone who wants to take the house, and let it go for nothing," Mr. Ellman said. "He thinks it does not have any value."

Twelve month's frustration

Planners decided to make Jobs wait 12 months for his demolition permit, on condition that he pay for a marketing campaign to find someone willing to take the house away. (Some Macworld staff have suggested Jobs put the house up for sale on eBay).

If Jobs is unable to find a serious taker for his house – prepared to surmount the engineering challenges inherent in dismantling and transporting safely a house of this age – he may get a demolition certificate.

That is subject to caveat: Jobs will have to combine the 5-acre property with an adjacent parcel of land he owns into one plot that can never be subdivided; agree to ensure the new main residence is 6,000-square feet or less, and win Architectural and Site Review Board approval of his building plans.

He will also have to pay for a thorough documentation of the 1920s house, and preserve such key features as its pipe organ, flagpole and copper mailbox.

Even at this late stage one flaw in the plan remains: the adjacent parcel of land Jobs owns also has a building on it – and this house, too, may be "historically significant," the report adds.