The appraisal process accelerates. It is up to Tiburon Open Space to pay for it. Can you help us do that?

Image Credit to Jocelyn Knight

Image Credit to Jocelyn Knight

You will recall the recent and exciting announcement that the owners of the Martha Property have agreed to an appraisal process with The Trust for Public Land to determine the property’s value. We continue to be single-mindedly focused upon seeing that process through to completion.

Appraisals of this nature are complex, they often take months to complete, and they require specialized, highly skilled firms. It is critically important that both parties be satisfied with the firm and the process so that there is a comfort level with the ultimate conclusions. So that we can then move forward to purchasing the property at fair market value.

Appraisals such as these are expensive. Current estimates suggest that the cost could be nearly $60,000. The Trust for Public Land needs our help. Our role, as the champions of keeping this property open forever, will be to foot that bill. It is important that we do.

TRUST is helping raise funds for the appraisal costs. TRUST is the organization working to keep the Martha trails open.

We really need your help. This process is ready to begin and it needs to be paid for. It’s as simple as that.

Can you help us do that? We will thank you for your generosity. And so will the generations of people and kids and open space explorers who will walk upon and enjoy that land. Forever.

Thank you.

Tiburon Open Space





There’s some news we’d like to share with you

Image Credit to Jocelyn Knight

Image Credit to Jocelyn Knight

Martha has agreed to an appraisal!

Yes, the owners of the Martha Property have agreed to obtaining an appraisal to help determine the property’s actual value. We couldn’t be more delighted with this exciting development. Jerry Riessen, the leader of Tiburon Open Space:

This is great news. Really great news. We have all been working hard to help make this appraisal happen, a necessary step in arriving at a fair purchase price. We now enter a delicate phase. The appraisal will be as complex as the long journey to get us to this point. It is precisely what is needed to continue towards the goal of purchasing Martha and allowing her to be open forever.

Specifically, the Martha Property owners have agreed to commence an appraisal, working with The Trust for Public Lands, an organization trusted by both the property owners and Tiburon Open Space.

Now what?

The temptation to offer a toast, while real, is premature. A breakthrough? In many ways, yes. A victory? No. Not yet. There is still much work to be completed. The parties will have to identify and agree on the appraisers, the process, the timeline. And then agree on the appraised value to effect an actual purchase.

Although there has not been any interest expressed thus far to purchase the property on the open market, it will remain for sale during an appraisal.

There will be a significant cost to completing this process. We’ll need all kinds of help with that. We are, of course, very grateful to those of you who have made contributions to keep this process alive thus far. "Thank you” cannot possibly convey how we feel about your help.

As you read this, we would ask you to consider the fact that this breakthrough moment is the culmination of years and years of work, endless hours, many buckets of frustration and, at times, grave worry about outcome. But here, today, that work has paid off in the form of an agreement to proceed; an agreement to appraise. We take a deep breath, find some comfort in the magnitude of this agreed next step, then resolve to push ahead with renewed energy: a forever open Martha feels like she is within our grasp.

Stay tuned. Help us if you can.

Tiburon Open Space





The Beautiful Scene of Martha


This is the scene we want to save.

There’s a whole lot going on behind it.

How we love this place. This is Martha.

Each day we look up to that ridge which we are now forbidden to walk upon, leaving us to imagine Spring’s green becoming Summer’s gold. In these moments we are reminded that Martha is worth saving; that Martha must be saved.

We offer another reminder: behind that beautiful scene, we are working to save her trails from concrete, and her views of city lights and the bay from the unnatural disruption of fences, automobiles, and fire’s danger.

While you may not hear specific news at the moment, we hear the phone ringing, the meetings gathering, and the constant call of bills to be paid.

We are working with attorneys to challenge the County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a report that we view as woefully inadequate and potentially tragic. The Town of Tiburon has joined us in that challenge, by the way. We have committed countless hours and expenses to this effort. As we must.

We are working tirelessly to get an objective appraisal for Martha. Not just any appraisal, but one that reflects the realities of both parties…something that we view as an essential step given a transaction of this magnitude. Her owners don’t want to contribute or cooperate yet, but we hope they will have a change of heart.

Lastly, we are working to engage and activate more of our neighbors in this cause. More of us united will strengthen our position with The Trust for Public Lands, and other potential donors when the time comes to purchase Martha. Perhaps you know of someone who might join in?

Behind Martha’s scenes, her waving grasses, lonely trails, the worry of forever loss, and those views we all cherish, we are working…we are working very hard. Please join us in our work. Please tell everyone you know and meet about Martha, and why she must be saved. We will thank you.

And that is what our kids, theirs, and all who walk upon this treasured land will do as well…and forever.

Tiburon Open Space





Martha got a response to its $110 million listing. There wasn’t one.

Martha got a response to its $110 million listing. There wasn’t one.

Hello, again. Happy Spring! It’s good to catch up.


You haven’t heard from us for some time as we have awaited word of the Martha property listing (October 2018). There hasn’t been any interest. The county has not received a single inquiry. Not one. The likely reason? No one is interested in that beautiful land at that ugly price.

Enter Tiburon Open Space. Surprise. Our interest in purchasing Martha to keep her open, forever and to all has not wavered. Not for a moment.

Since July of 2018, when Martha lost their case in Federal Court choosing not to appeal, we have strongly, kindly, hopefully, and persistently asked Martha to explore the possibility of purchase. Martha ignored our offers. Martha wouldn’t pay for an appraisal.

An appraisal is precisely what is needed. It’s the next, obvious and critical step. We need help to do it. We need you.

It won’t be easy. Much of what makes us love Martha will also make it difficult to appraise. Why? For starters, the conditions of approval mandated by Marin County are 35 pages long. That’s a novel. It is the very definition of an expensive appraisal.

While this is, yes, another appeal for your generosity, it is also another step closer to realizing the dream of keeping this treasure open to us all and forever. It also has the appealing scent of specificity. An appraisal is real and tangible and, we believe, can provide us with the tool necessary to productively (and positively) move things closer to achieving the goal.

Can you help us out? Appraise this idea: in a few years time we might have Martha’s beauty and wildlife and unparalleled vistas to visit, to see with our kids, and theirs, and look back at how truly important all of this work will have been. That would be a priceless appraisal.

Thank you. We hope to hear from you.

Tiburon Open Space





Mr. Berra once said: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Sunset across Martha Property from existing open space.jpg

Truer words have never been spoken. We were reminded of that upon hearing the judge’s recent decision on the Trail litigation. Hopeful, committed and positive gave way to disappointed, surprised and disbelieving. As you would expect, should The Trails Team decide to appeal the decision, we will be right there with them, as we have been, in our support for their efforts to keep those trails open and accessible forever.

As Tiburon Open Space, what did we learn from it all? Among other things, we are reminded that there are forces at play that do not agree with us, have a different vision of the future, see Martha as a network of streets and fences and rooflines, compromised species and real safety risks. They see her separated from her past and closed off from our children’s future. We are resolute in not letting that happen. We vow to keep working on it.

In the face of at times discouraging developments, we would encourage you to click on this link: How the Marin Headlands Almost Became a Commuter Town

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Marin Headlands were going to become a maze of city blocks, high rises, and with a population of 30,000! People just like you stepped up and said “No thanks. Uh uh. Ain’t gonna happen.”

And it didn’t. We take enormous strength from their hard work, and thank them each time we walk on The Headlands. And as we contemplate the possible loss of Martha.

We will continue to monitor environmental, water flow, fire and traffic safety issues as the family continues to list Martha for sale. We could use your help in not letting our collective guard down as we do so. It still takes dollars to make this kind of sense.

One last thing. So many of you have sent your well wishes and financial support this year. We are grateful. It is going to great use. So, while “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” may be true, we suspect that Yogi might offer another pithy reminder to us all at this time of year:

“It ain’t the holidays 'til we say ’thank you.’” We hope that they are warm, safe and happy for you and your family.

We can't let the quiet fool us. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Tiburon Open Space.png

Hello. Don't let the silence deceive. There’s a lot going on.

We sit and watch as the Martha Property has been put on the market. They are asking $1 million dollars per acre. While we are curious to see if a buyer of great wealth emerges, we won’t be holding our collective breath. It seems unlikely. Among other issues, a big mansion will have to conform to the existing building restrictions imposed by the county and confirmed by the Federal Judge. And there are the other impediments to development…those have not gone away. We will closely review any new housing plan and it’s environmental impacts.

Throughout this period, we are seriously looking at how we can go about doing what we have always wanted to do: purchase Martha from the Reed family at a fair market price and keep it open, for all of us, forever.

What are we doing?

We continue in our efforts to identify resources (whom we must pay) to help us come to a realistic assessment/appraisal of the property’s value.

And we continue in our efforts to identify sources and raise money to pay that fair market value the very minute the Reed Family decides to accept it.

Wall Street Journal: A $110 Million Bay Area Property Offers Views—And Some Unhappy Neighbors

KPIX: Beautiful Tiburon Property Up For Sale With Massive Price Tag

Sun-Star: Check out this $110 million property for sale with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco skyline

So, while it seems quiet, it really isn't. We ask you to help us in our efforts to raise the money we need to keep up the fight, and prepare for that day when we can write the check, close the deal, and walk that beautiful land whenever we want, with whomever we want. And always.

Help us if you can.

Thanks. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Tiburon Open Space


Martha Property.jpg

Martha seems to have stopped pursing the 43 lot plan as no developer will pay anywhere near $110 million. Far too many permitting/environmental risks remain.

Their new approach of pursuing a single residence will likely reduce environmental impacts and may result in increased public use. Encouraging but details are needed.

Stay tuned.

We never completed the appraisal data gathering. We only want to do that if Martha works with us collecting the data. To date Martha has declined to participate in an appraisal. Likely Martha doesn’t want to be paid appraised value - they want to be paid more.

See also:

Marin IJ:

Tiburon developer offers litigation-snarled property for $110 million

The Ark:

BREAKING: Undeveloped 110-acre Tiburon Ridge property for sale for $110 million


Wall Street Journal

A $110 Million Bay Area Property Offers Views—And Some Unhappy Neighbors


Martha Property.jpg
  1. The TRUST trails court trial has concluded and final briefs must be submitted by both parties by October 15th. The judge will then rule, perhaps a few weeks later.

  2. The CEQA environmental issues challenge is moving slowly. TOS has claimed that the document certified by the county in October 2017 does a poor job of analyzing and mitigating the traffic safety and biology and fire risk issues. The record which includes every comment letter and every study still has not yet been fully collected. The trial will likely be early in 2019.

  3. Meanwhile TOS is gathering the needed data to arrive at an accurate appraisal for the fair market value of the property.

    Please donate to help TOS with these important tasks.

A Brief History of Martha Property

A Brief History of Martha Property.png

August 2018

1. Tiburon Open Space (TOS; originally the Last Chance Committee that led the 1990’s efforts to purchase and create Old St Hilary’s Open Space), is leading the efforts to save the 110 acre Martha property from development. TOS wants to increase the environmental protections on the property believing that the approved restrictions are insufficient for the impacts that development will have on biology, traffic and fire safety.

2. 1976. Marin County approves restrictions against ridge top development.  Martha sues the County.  A legal settlement ultimately allows 43 half acre lots, allowing some on ridge if no other options exist. It will be 20 years before the first development proposal is submitted. Of note, there are 26 landslides on the property, and both protected fauna and wildlife species.

3. After withdrawing the first two, the third development proposal is approved by the County October 3, 2017 with the same number of lots and ridge restrictions. The County’s approval comes with restrictions based upon its power to lessen environmental impacts: house height restrictions are imposed, and 3 lots are moved from the ridge to near Paradise Drive.

4. July 2018, Martha challenges the imposition of these restrictions, but a Federal Judge confirms them.

5. TRUST—Tiburon Belvedere Residents to Support the Trails—awaiting September 4, 2018 trial as it has sued Martha to protect community access to its trails, trails that have been open and used for decades.

6. July 2018, The Town of Tiburon joins TOS in its environmental impacts legal challenge.  Trial is set for January 30, 2019.  (See

A Brief History of Martha Property (1).png

Tiburon Open Space seeks to purchase the Martha property at full appraised value, with the goal of keeping Martha open space, for all, and forever.  Full appraised value includes the cost to mitigate impacts (e.g., two new large water tanks are required to provide domestic water as well as a fire flow for fires; protection of sensitive habitat on the property; and the repair of many of the landslides areas). These costs, and many others, are similar to the repair costs that a seller must bear when selling their home.

Help Save Martha Property

Help Save Martha Property

To the friends of Tiburon Open Space.

Have you got a minute?  Or maybe just a few more?
On Tuesday, August 7th, an important, informational meeting will take place at Tiburon Town Hall.
Tiburon Open Space and TRUST — Tiburon-Belvedere Residents United to Save Trails — will come together for an informational workshop to update the community on the developments taking place in both crucial efforts.  While the two initiatives are separate and legally distinct, they do share the ultimate objective of keeping access to Martha for us all:
     TRUST will update on their upcoming state trial that will determine whether the long-used Martha trails will remain open; and
     TOS will update on developments that have occurred as the Town of Tiburon has now joined in the effort to address remaining environmental impacts relating to biology and traffic safety.
If you care at all about this work and community effort to save this property, please, please come and join in this event.

Meeting details:

        Tiburon Town Hall
        Tuesday, August 7th
        7:00 PM

We really hope to see you there.
Thank you for supporting this work and efforts to keep beautiful Martha open to all and forever.

Tiburon Open Space

Martha Property: Ruling and Development

Tiburon Open Space

We have some very good news!

Federal Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong, Senior United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, has issued her ruling regarding the disposition of the Martha Property.

And the judge ruled 100% against Martha’s demands.

Jerry Riessen, the Tiburon Open Space President, captured our thoughts rather succinctly: “The decision could not be better for us!"

Every one of the restrictions the County imposed upon the development were fully upheld. As a result, three houses must be moved off the ridge line, and many houses will now have height restrictions. The lot lines along the ridge will be moved to retain the current ridge trail, and house square footage will not be determined until the Design Review phase, long after all the infrastructure is built.

This is a significant ruling and development. It brings new life to our hope of one day purchasing Martha.

And, of course, our work goes on through each subsequent phase.

The challenge to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is ongoing. We need your help with that.

This ruling will allow us to begin the necessary, expensive appraisal process. We will need your help with that.

When that is accomplished, we will finally be close to making a full, appraisal-based offer to purchase  the Martha Property.

When successful, we will keep our promise to keep her beautiful and open forever.

Please help us if you can.

We look forward to that, and to hearing you.

Tiburon Open Space Committee

“We applaud Tiburon’s intervention to protect its residents.”

Tiburon developer loses appeal to salvage 43-home plan.png

“We applaud Tiburon’s intervention to protect its residents.”

With those words, Jerry Riessen, the leader of Tiburon Open Space Committee, announced a new challenge to the development of the Martha property.  The Town of Tiburon has petitioned to join our lawsuit against the County that challenges its approval of the environmental impact report and revised master plan.  

Here's the full story in the Marin Independent Journal.  We urge you to read this brief article in its entirety.

Greg Chanis, Tiburon's Town Manager, said that the town’s involvement is "…to protect its citizens from potential adverse effects that may result from developing the Martha property.”

This is great news, and we are grateful for their joining hands with us.

To those of you who have been on this journey with us, the joining of the Town of Tiburon and the Tiburon Open Space Committee in this suit will bring much needed and additional resources and clout to bear on the County.  For those of you who may just be learning of the planned development, and the significant threats posed by fire, environmental and traffic safety threats, we hope that you will join us in our efforts to save Martha from development.

For all of us, with big legal challenges come big legal bills.  We are asking you to dig deep for donations.  Both small and, hopefully, large.  We are encouraged by this development, but we realize the uphill battle we face.  We’d ask you to explore the depths of your pockets if you possibly can.

Thank you.  Let’s keep talking and working and keeping this issue front and center.  And, thanks Tiburon! 

Together, we can save Martha.

Got a minute?

The feelings you just enjoyed have been brought to you by Martha.

They are a reminder to us all of what we are fighting for.

And why.

As court rulings approach, we ask you to deeply consider what this property means.

Please look at the images again.
They are real and, quite possibly, lost.

Don’t let this momentary silence deceive.

We ask for your active and continued support to save her.

More than ever, she is worth fighting for.


March 2018 Update

Dear Friends of Tiburon Open Space,

Hello.  It’s been a while.  We have some very good news.  

Yesterday, United States Federal Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James ruled against the Martha Company, denying their moves to enforce the stipulated judgments of 1976 and 2007.  Judge James wrote:
Having considered the parties' arguments, the relevant legal authority,
and the record in this matter, the Court RECOMMENDS
the District Judge DENY the Motion.

Said differently, the court ruled 100% in our favor!  And 100% in favor of Marin County, the other party in the legal action.  This order is actually a recommendation to Federal District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong who will then make the final order.  We are optimistic that she will accept Judge James’ order in its entirety.  The Martha Company can choose to appeal. They have 14 days to do so. 

Martha Property

We, of course, hope that they will not choose that option. In fact, we will encourage them to come to the table, sit with us and other parties, and begin a meaningful discussion to determine a fair purchase price for the land.  

While we would love to, we’ll host no party just yet.  There’s still a long way to go. There will be considerable expense involved with the effort to determine that fair price.

So, yes, we are asking for your continued public, emotional and financial support.  We need money to take a major step closer to the ultimate finish line: a Martha open space that will be open, forever.

We welcome your enthusiasm, questions and support.  Thank you.

Tiburon Open Space

TOS, etc.

Marin Green Drinks

Please join us on March 13 at Marin Green Drinks, where we will hear from Richard Wodehouse, President of Tiburon/Belvedere Residents United to Support the Trails (TRUST) who will talk about Public Trails and Private Land: a Legal Approach to Save Open Space Trails.

Marin Green Drinks is a free business mixer held every 2nd Tuesday of the month, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at Lotus Cuisine of India, a certified green business in downtown San Rafael that offers excellent organic food and drinks and a great event location. Don't forget to bring your business cards and come network with us people living and working as green as we can!

TOS Says Thank You Jon!

Let’s all congratulate Jon Welner for his selection to the Tiburon Town Council and thank him for his years of pro bono service to Tiburon Open Space helping in their efforts to preserve Martha for everyone forever.

Read more in the Marin IJ article.

It’s not quite sitting down at the table, but it’s a start.

That’s Mark Reed on the left. He's the representative of the Reed Family who owns and wants to develop the Martha Property. On the right is the leader of Tiburon Open Space, Jerry Riessen. Jerry represents those of us in the region who want to buy the Martha Property from Mark, and then keep it as open space forever.
These two gentleman shared the podium the other night at Marin Green Drinks, an organization in San Rafael that sponsors social events about important environmental issues.

It seems to us that talking is a pretty good way to bridge the gap between the two sides. So this felt pretty good.

We wish you all good things as you sit around a table with your family to eat, drink and talk this week.  We hope that, soon, Mark and Jerry and their counsel will find the opportunity, and a table, to do the very same.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Your friends at Tiburon Open Space.


November 2017 Update Part 2

Dear Friends of Tiburon Open Space,

Based upon the flurry of activity that has recently taken place, and as a result of our discussions and email exchanges with many of you, we thought it wise to offer some clarification about Martha and her current status.

Now that the Marin County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), several of you have asked us if it’s now all over. Is Martha lost?

View towards Angel Island © Jocelyn Knight

View towards Angel Island © Jocelyn Knight

To which we offer a resounding response: absolutely not! Our cause is alive, well, and energized. The BOS reluctantly certified the EIR, pointing to the power of the earlier federal judgment. Even the BOS have voiced their hopes that Martha will not be developed.

You should know that our mission has not changed: We want to buy the Martha Property so that it will remain open space that will remain open forever.

There are still years to go in this process: scores of approvals and regulatory steps, likely including legal action, and much negotiating to be done. We are even hopeful that there might be an opening, sometime in 2018, for us to get the property owners to sit at the bargaining table with us and other interested parties. In the meantime, there is much work to do.

Given the massive tragedy of the wine country fires, we continue to be greatly concerned about the overwhelming number of safety dangers that the proposed development creates.

There is the significant and awful possibility of fires in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas as this project creates; the severe, dangerous limitations of the proposed construction road; the challenges of first responders to work their way towards danger as they attempt to navigate the narrow roads of Tiburon while citizens attempt to flee…these are all quite real dangers.  Another? The lack of water pressure…the estimates of pressure we have seen are woefully low for one house, let alone for multi-house fires. There are other significant safety issues across the spectrum of this project. They are very real, and the EIR certification has not made them go away.

This is the reason why TOS has filed suit against the BOS stating that the safety mitigations that Martha has proposed, and that the Board has certified, are not only inadequate, they will place residents of Tiburon in danger. We will keep you updated on this. We need your help with this.

We respectfully and hopefully ask that you please stay engaged, speak up!, comment, log on, speak to your friends and other interested parties, and keep the dialogue going. Help us greatly expand the number of people who will hear about and understand our actions as we attempt to save Martha.

And, as the year-end approaches, we humbly ask you to donate to this collective cause as much as you possibly can. We have retained legal counsel, and will soon be retaining additional subject matter, safety and construction experts. We need you.

Our thanks. Let’s talk again soon.

Tiburon Open Space Committee


November 2017 Update

To Friends of Tiburon Open Space,
Today Martha and Marin County met in private to discuss the open issues and plan next steps. I was included.

Martha Property.jpg

The issues didn’t change:  there are still disagreements about the restrictions Marin County placed on the project when the Board of Supervisors certified the Environmental Impact Report on October 3rd.

Martha counsel will now file documents detailing their claims and Marin County will respond. The Federal Court date is now set for January 11, 2018.

Well before January, Tiburon Open Space (TOS) will retain water hydraulic experts to evaluate the Martha project’s ability to fight a grass/forest fire such as in Napa/Sonoma. TOS will also have legal bills assessing whether aspects of the project may not be safe.

We can really use your help. Please consider a donation as the year end approaches.  And, if you can, invite several of your friends, living nearby or far away, to like us on Facebook. We need more people sounding the call for saving Martha.

Ultimately, our goal is to buy the land for everyone forever. Thank you.

 All the best,



Marin Green Drinks

Dear Friends of Tiburon Open Space,

There are occasionally events that we think you would find enlightening and entertaining. We are happy to share one with you now that is particularly relevant given the recent developments concerning The Martha Property.

On November 14, 2017 you are invited to the free monthly Marin Green Drinks business mixer in downtown San Rafael.


Jerry Riessen from the Tiburon Open Space Committee will be the guest speaker.

His topic will be "Save the Martha Property as Open Space.” Jerry will share his thoughts on the only major parcel of open land that remains on the Tiburon Peninsula — the magnificent 110-acre Martha Property. Marthais privately owned and, just a few days ago, the Environmental Impact Report was certified by the Marin County Board of Supervisors.

You'll also get a chance to mix and mingle with North Bay green business folks and taste some organic food, beers and wine.

Marin Green Drinks is hosted by Jody Ceniceros and Alex Kahl. The event is held at Lotus Cuisine of India. This restaurant is a certified green business which is consistently rated one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area.
Join us on November 14 at 5:30 PM. Bring business cards, a colleague or friend, and be sure to RSVP here.

The Tiburon Open Space Committee