truth about your Lafferty Ranch
If you just tuned in...
EIR: No significant environmental impact from unsupervised hiking
Drive it for yourself! Take East Washington from 101 or downtown Petaluma toward Sonoma Mountain (you can't miss it!). Turn left on Adobe Road, then after less than one mile, turn right on Sonoma Mountain road. Follow this road about three miles up the mountain. The Lafferty Ranch gate is where Sonoma Mountain Road turns sharply 90 degress to the left.
Costs low despite lawyers' attacks
Access: A temporary roadblock
Lafferty is a County issue
Mr. Pfendler and others are attacking public access and trail recreation (for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians) all over Sonoma County. They want to:
Learning from the past...
Opponents of Lafferty have characterized our efforts as "petty bickering," or based on prejudice against millionaires. Here is the history of what we have encountered in our six year effort to keep Lafferty for a public wilderness park.
LOWBALL APPRAISAL: 1992: Peter Pfendler offers to buy Lafferty at the City-appraised price, which neglects to include the value of Adobe Creek water rights, potentially shorting the City by $1 million..
BACK ROOM DEAL: 1992: After promising a public process to resolve Lafferty park issues, some Council members work privately with Mr. Pfendler and County officials and agree to "swap" Mr. Pfendler Lafferty, its water rights, and $1.4 million in exchange for Moon Ranch. For three years they resist growing popular opposition to the swap.
IGNORING STATE LAW: 1995: Pro-swap Council majority ignores laws requiring General Plan amendment and voter approval of the disposition of public utility property.
MASSIVE MISINFORMATION: Swap supporters produce "Give Us the Moon", a four-page newspaper insert claiming Lafferty is unusable due to ecological sensitivity. Leader of Case Grande United Anglers (an organization that received a large donation from Mr. Pfendler for a fish hatchery) says Lafferty Park will threaten the steelhead. Both claims are based on studies done by Mr. Pfendler's consultants, which are later proven false by the Lafferty EIR.
TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY: 1996: Frustrated with swap opponents' testimony at City Council meetings, Council member Mary Stompe, with support from the rest of the pro-swap majority, proposes that a majority vote be required to put items on the Council agenda.
BROWN ACT VIOLATION?: Council Members Stompe, Nancy Read, and Lori Shea, in a private Sunday meeting with former Council members Brian Sobel and Michael Davis, formulate a plan to "freeze" discussion of the swap until after the November City Council election. At the next day's Council meeting, Mayor Patty Hilligoss, who claimed no knowledge of the Sunday meeting, nevertheless read a prepared statement in support of the freeze proposal. The majority rescinded the freeze after several citizens sued them for violation of the State's open meeting law.
FELONY VOTER FRAUD: Swap supporters organize the Committee for Choice to circulate two petitions drafted by Mr. Pfendler's lawyer. Several politically prominent individuals organize a paid signature gathering campaign, which produces nearly 2000 forged signatures, one of the largest voter fraud cases in State history. Felony charges were filed against the organizers.
OPEN SPACE FUND RIP-OFF: After Mr. Pfendler withdraws Moon Ranch from the swap, and despite public protests at poorly publicized meetings, the County Open Space District proceeds to pay Pfendler $1.4 million for the conservation easement on Moon Ranch. (This is despite the fact that the purchase was contingent on the swap, and would not have been made without it.) They ignore citizen requests to negotiate full purchase of Moon for a Regional Park. Pfendler promptly puts Moon Ranch up for sale, promoting development of the "preserved" pastureland into a vineyard estate.
FIGHTING PROGRESSIVE OPEN SPACE POLICIES: Pfendler attacks the OSD for being too aggressive in pursuing good deals for the public, including seeking trail easements from landowners who accept the public's money for development rights.
STIFLING PRESS FREEDOM: 1997: Argus Courier reporter Dave Alcott begins to investigate individuals higher up in the Committee for Choice. After complaints from Brian Sobel to the publisher, Alcott is demoted from the City Hall beat, and is later fired.
ILLEGAL FENCE: Without County permit or City permission, Mr. Pfendler cuts down three trees on Lafferty and erect a mile of tall chain link fence, a hazardous wildlife barrier, across the face of the mountain. Much of this fence is on City property, blocking public access to the historic stone fence that marks the property line.
HOBBLING THE OUTDOOR RECREATION PLAN: After public opinion polls and workshops demonstrated overwhelming support for including more wilderness parks and trails in open space in the County's long term Outdoor Recreation Plan, Mr. Pfendler and the Farm Bureau get the County staff to delete most of them from the draft plan.
PACT AGAINST TRAILS: Mr. Pfendler and some neighbors create mutually binding property covenants, in which any one of them can prevent future owners of any of the other properties from allowing public trails on their property.
June 1998 by Citizens for Lafferty Ranch and
a Regional Park