Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
[Fishman] said plans are in the works for a “spectacular” hiking park once access is secure. Plans include a 20-space parking lot and restroom with a trail accessible to people with disabilities on a raised boardwalk above the wetlands to an overlook with picnic benches. Other trail systems would run to the top of the property, affording even greater views.
Trekking through chest-high grass still tinged green from heavy winter rains, Mike Healy startled a white-tailed deer that bounded off through some cattails.
Farther along his hike through Lafferty Ranch, a city-owned parcel on the flank of Sonoma Mountain, the Petaluma city councilman stopped at an overlook.
The expansive Petaluma Valley stretched below with familiar downtown buildings just visible among green treetops. In the distance, the lazy Petaluma River meandered towards San Pablo Bay. Farther still, the prominent triangular peak of Mt. Tamalpais towered stoically over the vista.
“This is the money shot,” Healy said, gesturing toward the distant horizon.
The longest tenured of Petaluma’s current council members, Healy likes to visit the 270-acre Lafferty Ranch on occasion to remember why the city has been fighting for public access to this space for 25 years.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get another look at your city from above,” he said. “The city has owned this land since 1959. It would be great to get people up here.”
Healy said he is hopeful that a resolution with neighboring land owners can be reached in the near future, ending one of the longest land use battles in Petaluma in a generation.
“The parties are continuing to discuss,” he said. “I have reason for optimism of a successful conclusion soon.”
Read more at: Lafferty plan: Access for all | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com
Paul Payne, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
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.
Meg McConahey, SONOMA MAGAZINE
“Once you have a second home at The Sea Ranch, there are two kinds of days in your life. … The ordinary days you spend in the workaday world and the days you spend on this lovely stretch of seacoast — the days you wish would never end.” ~ From a 1960s ad for The Sea Ranch
Al and Diana Edgerton were tooling north to Mendocino for a July 4 getaway in 1964 when they were beckoned off Highway 1 by a “lots for sale” sign bearing a bold ram’s-horn logo.
The sales office had opened just that weekend for an intriguing new development dubbed “The Sea Ranch.” The deals were as seductive as the setting — thick hillside forests of redwood, fir and fern overlooking a tableland of meadows that meet the sea along a shore notched with nubbly cliffs and coves. Lots could be locked up for as little as $4,500 in the forest east of Highway 1, $8,500 in a meadow with at least a peek of the ocean.
“We stopped out of curiosity. We had never heard of The Sea Ranch,” Edgerton, a retired oral surgeon, remembered. “But we cut short our vacation in Elk and put a down payment on a lot.”
Read more via The Sea Ranch Coastal Legacy | Sonoma Magazine.