Selected letters the the editors of local newspapers regarding the Supervisor's meeting
on Open Space funding for Lafferty Park on May 28, 2002


Published on June 7, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat
BRYAN COOPER, Sebastopol

EDITOR: Sonoma County has a long history of unscrupulous land grabs. General Vallejo took land from the Indians, later losing to both shysters and shenanigans by his own family. The courts were used to complete the dirty deeds.

Peter Pfendler is stealing the public right of way on Sonoma Mountain Road. The 1879 county map shows a public road straight to Lafferty Ranch. But Pfendler controls local lawyers and threatens expensive use of the courts, using undisclosed surveys to keep the public off its own land.

The county has a legal obligation to protect all land rights and public grants, including Sonoma Mountain Road. County staff rejected Petaluma, claiming lack of access and low risk of development. The compelling risk is whether Lafferty will become a public park, and staff failed to quantify the risk in losing a publicly owned and accessible park.

A simple solution: public works should immediately survey Sonoma Mountain Road, protecting public access to Lafferty Ranch and repair the road to follow the existing, 1879 public right-of-way. Supervisor Mike Kerns should lead this effort. Land rights are not some dusty footnote. Public roads protect all property owners, and we all deserve legal protection from extortion.



Published on June 11, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat

EDITOR: After sitting in on the Board of Supervisors meeting May 28 and listening to all the eloquent speakers, I was stunned that the vote was 3 to 1 opposing the opening of Lafferty Ranch. Clearly there is a lack of open space and parks in the southern part of Sonoma County.

Can someone tell me how a citizen becomes a member of the Open Space District? Should they be voted in or should the Board of Supervisors continue to control every piece of land?


From the June 12, 2002 Argus-Courier

Open Lafferty to the public

EDITOR: I sat through the whole two-hour fiasco at the Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the opening of Lafferty Park May 28. I was touched, moved and inspired by pleas from the public and members of the City Council, on behalf of us all, to allow access to this oasis of peace, beauty and spirituality so tremendously important in these times of global threats. How could anyone not give us this jewel that we are entitled to? The Board of Supervisors was not moved.

However, Mike Reilly did vote to open Lafferty to us. He was the only one. And I personally want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for his brave support and vision in the face of greed and all the other negative obstacles being put in the way of this holy endeavor. We will never give up.


From the June 12, 2002 Argus-Courier

Wild stories about Lafferty in the Argus

EDITOR: The Argus-Courier was full of news on Lafferty last week. Such one-sided stories are rare. I can hardly label them as journalism. Wild stories, character assassinations, misquotes and outright misinformation were replete in the stories. But most striking was the lack of any information for all those who oppose Lafferty. What is the fear you, and the proponents of this ill-begotten project, have of hearing the opposing side. Could it be that you have no real honest responses to the objections raised against this project? Who is it you think you can fool by refusing to publish opposing views while you let the proponents of this project run amuck with their dubious claims?

I would also like to remind you that the few quotes of the opponents you did put into one of the editorials, were supposedly said by me. However it is clear that my words were taken out of context as well as outright fabrications.

I hope you can do better than this. For the 67 percent of Petalumans and the 90 percent of residents of Sonoma Mountain Road who oppose this project, you only strengthen our resolve not to let the vocal few run wild with city funds for selfish personal vendettas and outright illegal use of funds.


NOTE: Throughout most of the 10-year effort to save and open Lafferty Park, opponents have generally kept a very low public profile -- no website, no public meetings or events, no public appearances or statements to the media. We have assumed this is due to the fact that, if you can buy lawyers and politicians by the dozen, you don't need to bother with public opinion. We further assume that the handful of mountain landowners who have fought so hard to keep kids, families, hard-working people, and elders off the public's own land are fundamentally ashamed of their own selfishness, and would rather not put it on display for all the world to see, now and forever. With his various letters to the editor and occasional public statements in recent years, Michael Caruana is the exception that proves this rule. - Ed.



Published on June 21, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat

EDITOR: It has been brought to my attention that there have been some grave inequities when it comes to doling out public funds for open space preservation.

Someone needs to research why the Board of Supervisors gave the multi-millionaire Peter Pfendler more than $1 million for the development rights for his land over legal objections and threats of suits and then turned down open space funds to the city of Petaluma for development rights to the land adjacent to Pfendler because of threats of lawsuits by his lawyers.

Is there any difference between the two besides Pfendler's well-known influence?

It would be better that someone locally gets to the bottom of this before Sonoma County is embarrassed by the likes of "60 minutes" doing an exposť.


From the July3, 2002 Argus-Courier

Supervisor should deliver parkland

EDITOR: In response to recent letters regarding Lafferty Park, it should be noted that the Lafferty Park plan includes a trail that complies with the American with Disabilities Act, and therefore provides easy access to the park for all citizens including those in strollers and wheelchairs. 

Without question, southern Sonoma County is drastically under served with accessible parkland.   Supervisor Kerns, now in his second term, has not provided effective leadership in delivering additional parks to his constituents.

Lafferty Park is the only publicly owned property on the western side of Sonoma Mountain and our best opportunity at securing accessible park land in the foreseeable future. With every passing day, fewer and fewer parcels are available for park development.

Yes, it is frustrating that the cost has soared in the process of opening Lafferty. No, the cost should not come at the expense of maintaining city infrastructure.

Yes, we need strong and visionary leadership from our supervisor in finding solutions to the problems stalling Lafferty. We need more parks in the south county, in addition to Lafferty, and the Open Space District (aka our county supervisors) need to provide us with our share of the open space dollars and accessible land. 

Please write to Supervisor Kerns asking him to deliver our fair share.

KIM NADEAU, Penngove