Judge sides with neighbors in Sonoma Mountain access dispute

Advocates of public access to Petaluma’s Lafferty Ranch could be facing a legal setback.
In a tentative ruling last week, Sonoma County Judge Elliot Daum said the city of Petaluma and a citizens group have no legal standing to enforce a county road easement over private property to the public open space on Sonoma Mountain.
And Daum said the city has not proven the 270-acre parcel bought more than a half-century ago is actually landlocked, pointing to an old water facility easement that leads to the area. If his ruling becomes final, the city would be allowed to amend some of its claims but co-plaintiffs from the Friends of Lafferty Park will be forced out of the lawsuit.
The judge heard oral arguments from both sides after issuing his initial findings Tuesday. He then took the matter under submission.
“We’re very happy with the tentative ruling,” said Santa Rosa attorney Les Perry, who represents adjacent property owners, including Kimberly Pfendler and the Bettman-Tavernetti family.
Perry said settlement talks would continue regardless of the final outcome.
Matt Maguire of Friends of Lafferty Park expressed disappointment. The former Petaluma councilman said the city would continue the fight without his group and ask the county to join in.
“That would be a slam-dunk,” Maguire said. “We’ve been asking them for a long time.”
Read more via Judge sides with neighbors in Lafferty Ranch dispute | The Press Democrat.

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