Presentation by David Keller to the Petaluma City Council on March 26, 2001

Top 10 Ways to Kill Lafferty Park

David Keller, Retired city council member

Remarks delivered Mar. 26, 2001 to Petaluma City Council, at the public hearing on Lafferty Ranch Final EIR.

Forty-two years ago, our predecessors had the foresight to purchase Lafferty Ranch with ratepayers' money, as part of the City's water system.  In 1962 the Petaluma General Plan called for this property to become a park open to all citizens to meet future recreational needs in the region.

It is now our turn to fulfill this decision and open Lafferty Park for full public access.

After ten years of public scrutiny, including political and expensive legal battles, an ill-feted attempt to give this park away that was infested by the largest voter fraud in California, and the most comprehensive EIR review for any passive-use park of this size, we are now close to opening Lafferty Park to the public.

Fulfill the promise. Fulfill the dream. Let us all have the chance to walk upon these lands, for respite and reflection, exercise, education and enjoyment. People of all ages now deserve to be able to visit and cherish the only publicly owned lands of upper Sonoma Mountain facing the Pacific - Petaluma's Mt. Tam, Mt. Diablo, Mt. St. Helena, Hood Mtn.

Do not give in to the fear mongering and threats by the few trolls and NIMBY's of Sonoma Mountain.  We own this, and it would cost millions of dollars to replace it.

Though our path is now clear to Lafferty Park, it will require your commitment and choices to carry them through.  This fruit can still die on the vine, but I'm sure you won't let it.

1. You could not certify the EIR, or not approve the project or the General Plan amendments, but I'm sure you won't do that.

2.  You could certify the EIR, but with the most severe mitigations and limits on its use, even though the City Council's resolution to create this park specified that it be done consistent with the best management practices of parks in the Bay Area - but I'm sure you won't want to do that.

3.  You could approve it, but fail to fund improvements, or accept volunteer donations of labor, money and materials, but I'm sure you wouldnt do that.

4.  You could approve it, but bend to the Supervisors' demands and insist that we pay for Sonoma County's past neglect and liabilities of Sonoma Mountain Rd, even with years of County approvals of new homes and failures to make identified repairs, even though virtually no other parks in the North Bay are served by roads meeting AASHTO standards, but I'm sure you wouldn't do that.

5.  You could deny the park, claiming threats to fish, eagles, frogs, turtles, salamanders, fire hazards, or spread of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, which would mandate that no new or existing lands ever be open for parks (except turfed city parks), and would require that all agricultural activities and developments on Sonoma Mountain and elsewhere meet the same standards, but I'm sure you wouldn't want to do that.

6.  You could approve Lafferty Park, but fail to vigorously defend your decision in court, and invite opposition to all new rural park proposals, but I'm sure you don't want that.

7.  You could be challenged in court, go into settlement conference with the litigants, and settle for an agreement that ends the lawsuits but effectively closes the park, severely limits access, or gives the park away to private control, but I'm sure you wouldn't do that.

8.  You could approve the park, but fail to assert the City's claim to valid legal access across a disputed entrance strip of land, preventing unfettered access to the park, but I'm sure you wouldn't do that.


10+..  There are a hundred ways to make it look like you want this park, but fail to follow through with the vigor, vision and persistence needed to give us access to our park, but I hope you won't do that.


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