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Martha Zeiher, the Founder of Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation
Martha Zeiher, the Founder of Ventura
Citizens for Hillside Preservation

Martha Zeiher was waving the morning’s Ventura County Star at two co-workers in Kinko’s Corporate Communications Department saying, “We can’t let this happen!”

She was referring to an article on that morning in the Year 2000 about a massive executive tract home build-out in the hills of Ventura.

Martha and those co-workers quickly organized a community meeting at the
Garden Village Café on Day Road in Ventura. Eighty people turned out. This marked the launch of Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation and a growing effort to preserve the hillsides and natural beauty that are so instrumental in making Ventura the charming and friendly beachfront community we know and love to this day.

Martha tirelessly set up lunch hour meetings with council members and experts. As the Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation founder and first president, Martha led with relentless devotion on her mission to preserve the qualities of the community she loved. She was a major force in the city’s placing Measure P, the Ventura Hillside Voter Participation Measure, on the 2001 ballot, which requires a vote of the citizens for any extension of city services for urban development into the hillside area through the year 2030.

Martha’s leadership led the way to the defeat of Measure A in 2002, which proposed the development of 1,390 homes in tracts above Foothill Road that would have dramatically impacted Ventura’s schools, traffic, limited water supply, emergency services and quality of life.

After the defeat of Measure A Martha joined with other concerned citizens to found the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, which owns and manages over 50 acres in the hills and along the Ventura River and continues to work with landowners toward the goal of open space preservation.

Martha’s contribution to Ventura is immeasurable. Without these protections which Martha helped usher into local law, our open spaces would disappear in the same way they have in other coastal Southern California towns. Martha recognized that access to nature is integral for a healthy quality of life. She saw that the Ventura hillsides are an iconic natural feature of our community deserving of our protection. We owe her a deep debt of gratitude.

Martha lived and worked in Ventura for decades, but recently retired to her home state of Texas to be closer to her family.

VCHP also thanks Tom Zeiher for his graciousness and understanding of Martha’s need to organize and educate the residents of Ventura about the project being proposed for the hillsides. Her commitment to this effort demanded much of her time. During this time Tom was left to run their household while she spent many long evenings at meetings to help save the hillsides from development.

Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation
Ventura, CA 93003

(805) 665-3820

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