right is a close-up of the 1877 historical
map focusing on the
corner of Lafferty Ranch that touches Sonoma
Note the western
corner of the property. An entrance driveway is
shown (near the "M" in Marshall
Lafferty) from Sonoma Mountain Road which appears
to be completely clear of the adjacent properties.
corner of the Lafferty property seems to
correspond to the inside (western)
corner of the right-angle bend in Sonoma Mountain
Road. That would mean the entire road
right-of-way would be inside the Lafferty
property. This alignment is shown even more
clearly in the 1898 map, below, where the former
Lafferty property is shown belonging to the
"Sonoma Co. Water Co."
That these two
factors -- road right-of-way within the Lafferty
property and the driveway into that property
shown clear of adjacent parcels -- is significant.
We believe is shows conclusively that people who
drew up the original property lines (which remain
the same today), road right-of-way, and official
maps had no doubt about the Lafferty property's
clear access to Sonoma Mountain Road.
This may explain why neighboring landowners
have never been able to produce documentation of
any easement granted across their properties for
access to Lafferty. It would have seemed obvious
to the early landowners that no such easement was
required, since the Lafferty property had clear
access to the road.
Currently, the road pavement is around twenty
feet away from the Lafferty fencelines, which has
led the neighbors to the north and south of the
Lafferty gate to claim they control access from
the road to Petaluma's Lafferty Ranch property.
How did this situation arise?
Rural fencelines are notoriously fluid and
imprecise, so it is likely they have wandered
over time. But we think the main culprit is the
sharp, 90-degree, left turn in Sonoma Mountain
Road (which, ironically, was put there to follow
property lines and give explicit road access to
Lafferty Ranch). We believe road paving crews --
and prior to its being paved, road users -- have
incrementally "cut", or rounded that
corner to make it safer and more direct. In so
doing, they have gradually moved the road away
from the Lafferty Ranch property.
It is also worth noting that Petaluma
commissioned a boundary survey in 1998 which
substantially agrees with these historical maps.
See also these photographs
of the Lafferty gate area today.