Bill Kortum's Letters to the Editor on the topic Petaluma's passed/rescinded Sonoma Mountain resolution of 2004

Argus-Courier, July 14, 2004

Thompson's reversal on Lafferty odd

EDITOR: Has the long arm of Peter Pfendler reached out to force Council member Clark Thompson into reversing his previous support for Lafferty?

As a participant on the committee to plan the park, then-mayor Thompson summed up a Lafferty hearing by promising, "The public really wants Lafferty Park."

Subsequently, Mayor Thomp-son and Councilman Maguire appeared before the Board of Supervisors to ask that the Sonoma County Agriculture and Open Space District purchase a conservation easement on Lafferty. The revenue would have allowed the city to open Lafferty and defend itself from neighbor Peter Pfendler's contemplated legal challenge. Supervisor Mike Kerns, compliant to the long arm, voted against the city's request.

Recently Thompson, now an appointed councilmember, proposed a broadly-worded resolution calling for the state Coastal Conservancy, state parks department, and local government to cooperate to resolve opening up Lafferty Park and connecting it with the trail, offered by Bonnie Mitsui, to Jack London Park. The motion passed despite opposition from Moynihan, Harris, and O'Brien.

With resolution in hand, Mayor Glass confidently appeared before the Sonoma City Council and asked that they support the resolution. Connecting the Sonoma and Petaluma valleys with a cross-mountain trail via Lafferty Park, Mitsui Trail, and Jack London Park allowed Sonoma to join with Petaluma in a hands-across-the-mountain effort.

Last Monday, councilmember Thompson asked the council to rescind the resolution. Mayor Glass and councilmembers Torliatt and Healy voted against rescinding.

Who in the smoke-filled rooms of Petaluma enticed Clark Thompson to reverse himself and thereby undermine the city's reputation and standing with her sister city of Sonoma, the county Board of Supervisors, the state park department, and the California Coastal Conserv-ancy? The resolution would have started a process that would result in the Coastal Conservancy buying Lafferty and allowing the city to recoup part of its $900,000 investment.

Councilmembers O'Brien and Moynihan will be asked by the voters in November why the city should not recover its investment in Lafferty and why they stand in the way of opening Lafferty, the only public land on the western flank of Sonoma Mountain. Their vote stands in the way of an eventual trail across the mountain to Jack London. After all, one out of every three voters walks and hikes for recreation.


Press Democrat, late June 2004
(Note: This letter does not appear in the Press Democrat archives. The following is the version of the letter submitted by Bill Kortum to the newspaper, which may be slightly different from the version printed.)

Inconsistency on trails

EDITOR: It is inspiring that your Friday, June 25 front page features Sonoma County’s segment of the California Coastal Trail.

It is ironic that your editorial in the same edition compliments the Petaluma City Council for rescinding a resolution that would have started a process to open Lafferty Park and a cross mountain trail. 

In 1972 the concept of a California Coastal Trail faced just as many obstacles as does Lafferty today.  At that time the Press Democrat editorialized against Proposition 20, the Coastal Initiative that subsequently provided the opportunity and tools to develop the California Coastal Trail.

Rescinding the Lafferty resolution jeopardizes the park from taking on regional significance by the trail offer of Bonnie Mitsui that could connect Jack London Park to Lafferty and provide a spectacular link between the Sonoma and Petaluma valleys.

The resolution reads:  ". . .the City Council of the City of Petaluma encourages the California Coastal Conservancy, the California State Park system, and local government officials to work together to create a park and trail system of regional significance on Sonoma Mountain.”

A call for cooperation, yet labeled by the Press Democrat as a “dead end.”

Voting to rescind were council members O’Brien, Moynihan, Harris, and Thompson.  Like the California Coastal Trail, Lafferty and the cross mountain trail will eventually, despite the spoilers, become a public treasure.


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