COUNTY OF SONOMA

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

575 ADMINISTRATION DRIVE, RM. 100A
SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA 95403

(707) 565-2241
FAX (707) 565-3778

EEVE T. LEWIS
COUNTY CLERK

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD

TIM SMITH
CHAIRMAN

MIKE KERNS
VICE CHAIRMAN

MICHAEL J. CALE

PAUL L. KELLEY

MIKE REILLY

March 20, 2001

Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
Petaluma City Council
11 English Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Re: Lafferty Ranch Park Revised Final Environmental Impact Report/
Improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road

Dear Mayor Thompson and Members of the City Council:

After reviewing the City's Revised Final Environmental Impact Report ("Final EIR") for the Lafferty Ranch project, we noted that the Final EIR makes statements about the inability of the City, as part of its Lafferty Ranch project, to mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts to Sonoma Mountain Road. Here is what the Final EIR says at pages 61-62 of Volume I: (a copy of the entire Pages 61 to 62 is attached for ease of reference)

"The Revised DEIR contains an extensive description of existing roadway deficiencies on Sonoma Mountain Road and roadway improvement needs... At pages 160-161 the Revised DEIR identifies potentially significant project impacts on the roadway, i.e. the increased traffic will subject additional pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers to the identified traffic safety hazards. On page 162, the Revised DEIR states that the traffic safety impact can be mitigated to a less than significant level by improving the road to meet the minimum AASHTO standards. These improvements, however, are within the jurisdiction of the County, and additionally are not feasible given the high cost of those improvements...
The cost of roadway improvements would depend on what improvements if any are approved by the County...
The County would need to consider the above factors in determining whether to develop a road improvement plan or other road safety, measures... Assuming the County did determine that some or all of the measures identified in the EIR were feasible and desirable, at this point the City cannot assume the measures will be implemented,


Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
March 20, 2001
Page 2

because there is no assurance that the County would approve and implement them. These are decisions within the County's control. Accordingly, as set forth in the EIR, although the City may wish to coordinate with the County on developing future roadway improvements, it cannot rely on such improvements to mitigate the significant road safety impact identified in the EIR.
The County's potential liability for the condition of its road does not raise an environmental issue and is beyond the scope of this EIR.

We recognize that the City of Petaluma has exclusive decision making authority with respect to whether or not to open the Lafferty Ranch as a.public park. While the County is not taking a position opposed to, or in favor of; the City's plans to open Lafferty Ranch as a public park, we are very concerned that the Final EIR incorrectly concludes that the City has no ability to make needed road safety improvements as part of its proposed project. So that there will be no confusion about the City's ability to mitigate significant adverse impacts and make needed road safety improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road as part of its proposed project, we offer the following:

  1. Our County Counsel has reviewed the matter and believes that the City has the requisite jurisdiction and authority to make needed safety improvements to roads from the City limits to the entrance of the the Ranch by virtue of Government Code 38300 and 38304 and other state laws.

  2. The County allows the City full and complete access.to Sonoma Mountain Road to construct those road safety improvements, satisfactory to the County's Director of Transportation & Public Works, necessary to reduce the identified (in the City's Final EIR) significant safety impacts to an insignificant level.

  3. Our public works staff has been directed to consult and cooperate with your department of public works to assist you to make needed improvements. Staff have also been directed to provide you with all information that the County has relating to Sonoma Mountain Road in the event that the City wishes to directly fund and complete the necessary safety irnprovernents. Alternatively, if the City wishes to raise and deposit with the County the funds necessary to make the needed improvements, the County will use City funds and proceed with the improvements as a County project.

  4. The County will convey to the City, as a gift and at no cost, its entire interest in the roadways from the Petaluma city limits to Lafferty Ranch, to allow the City to make needed improvements recommended in the City's Final EIR.

Today the Board of SuperviSors adopted an official resolution to that effect, and expressing its readiness to cooperate with the City for the public good. We look forward to continuing mutual


Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
March 20, 2001
Page 3

efforts, and to working with the City in a constructive and positive way. Your EIR notes that Sonoma Mountain Road is a road that currently experiences a higher than normal accident rate and accidents involving a disproportionate number of young drivers. We know this concerns the members of the City Council just as it concerns us.

We anticipate that the City will mitigate adverse traffic safety impacts identified in .its Final EIR. If the City elects to proceed with its plans for opening the Park without making needed safety improvements and does not accept the road, the County will require, as mitigation, the City to fully indemnify the County for damages which may result from the City project.

We appreciate the difficulty of the decision now facing you given the competition between desires for the project and the fiscal and legal enviromnent surrounding public projects of all kinds. We wish you well in your deliberations and thank you for the opportunity to be heard in connection with this matter.

Very truly yours,

Tim Smith

TIM SMITH, Chair
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

Ed Walker

ED WALKER, Director
Sonoma County Department of Public Works

cc: Fred Stouder, Petaluma City Manager
Pamela Tuft, AICP, Director of Gereral Plan Administration, City of Petaluma
Enclosures: Sonoma County Board Resolution Adopted March 20, 2001
Pages 61 & 62 of City's Final EIR


Resolution No. 01-0308

Date: March 20, 2001

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF THE COUNTY OF SONOMA, STATE OF CALIFORNIA, AUTHORIZING THE CHAlR OF THE BOARD AND.THE DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC WORKS TO (1) SEND THE ATTACHED LETTER TO THE CITY OF PETALUMA REGARDING THE CITY'S PROPOSED LAFFERTY RANCH PARK PROJECT AND (2) GRANTING FULL AND COMPLETE PERMISSION TO THE CITY OF PETALUMA TO MITIGATE ANY SUBSTANTIAL ADVERSE EFFECTS ON SONOMA MOUNTAIN ROAD FROM THE CITY'S PROJECT, AS IDENTIFIED IN THE CITY'S FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT, AND (3) GRANTING FULL AND COMPLETE PERMISSION AND CONSENT TO THE CITY OF PETALUMA TO MAKE ANY NEEDED SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS TO SONOMA MOUNTAIN ROAD SO THAT THE CITY MAY MITIGATE THE UNAVOIDABLE SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE IMPACTS OF ITS PROJECT, IDENTIFIED IN THE CITY'S F]NAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT, OF INCREASED ACCIDENTS FOR CARS, BICYCLISTS, AND/OR PEDESTRIANS ON SONOMA MOUNTAIN ROAD.


BACKGROUND OF THE ACTION TAKEN BY THE COUNTY

  1. On March 26, 2001, the Petaluma'City Council is scheduled to consider certifying the proposed Final Environmental Impact Report ("Final EIR") for opening Lafferty Ranch as a public park, and to decide whether or not to open the property as a park or take some other action. The City Council meeting is set for 7:00 p.m., following a closed session at 6:30 p.m.
  2. The County recognizes that the City of Petaluma has exclusive decision making authority with respect to whether or not to open the Lafferty Ranch as a public park.
  3. After reviewing the City's Final EIR, the Director of Transportation & Public Works and the Board noted that the Final EIR makes statements about the inability of the City, as part of its Lafferty Ranch project, to mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts to Sonoma Mountain Road. Here is what the Final EIR says at pages 61-62 of Volume I: (a copy of the entire pages 61 and 62 is attached for ease of reference)

"The Revised DEIR contains an extensive description of existing roadway deficiencies on Sonoma Mountain Road and roadway improvement needs... At pages 160-161 the Revised DEIR identifies potentially significant project impacts on the roadway, i.e. the increased traffic will subject additional pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers to the identified traffic safety hazards. On page 162, the Revised DEIR states that the traffic safety impact can be mitigated to a less than significant level by improving the road to meet the minimum AASHTO standards. These improvements, however, are within the jurisdiction of the County, and additionally are not feasible given the high cost of those improvements...
The cost of roadway improvements would depend on what improvements if any are approved by the County...
The County would need to consider the above factors in determining whether to develop a road improvement plan or other road safety, measures... Assuming the County did determine that some or all of the measures identified in the EIR were feasible and desirable, at this point the City cannot assume the measures will be implemented, because there is no assurance that the County would approve and implement them. These are decisions within the County's control. Accordingly, as set forth in the EIR, although the City may wish to coordinate with the County on developing future roadway improvements, it cannot rely on such improvements to mitigate the significant road safety impact identified in the EIR.
The County's potential liability for the condition of its road does not raise an environmental issue and is beyond the scope of this EIR.

  1. While the County recognizes that the City of Petaluma has exclusive decision making authority with respect to whether or not to open the Lafferty Ranch as a public park, the County is very concerned that the Final EIR incorrectly concludes that the City has no ability to make needed road safety improvements as part of the City's proposed project. There should be no confusion about the City's full ability to mitigate any significant adverse impact from the City's project and to make needed road safety improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road as part of its proposed project, all as set forth in the City's Final EIR, so that the adverse impacts are properly mitigated in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
  2. The County Counsel has reviewed the matter and believes that the City has the requisite jurisdiction and authority to make needed safety improvements to roads (such as Sonoma Mountain Road) leading from the City limits to the entrance of the Lafferty Ranch by virtue of Goverment Code 38300 and 38304 and other state laws. To lay to rest any questions about the County's willingness to allow the City of Petaluma to mitigate any adverse environmental impacts from the City's Lafferty Ranch project, the Board wishes to set forth here its full and complete permission and consent to the City of Petaluma to make any needed road safety improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road as part of the City's proposed project, all as set forth in the City's Final EIR, so that the adverse impacts are properly mitigated in accordance with the California Envioronmental Quality Act.

ACTION TAKEN BY THE COUNTY.

The Board of Supervisors resolves, determines and orders as follows:

  1. The County gives full and complete permission to the City to construct road safety improvements on Sonoma Mountain Road satisfactory to the Sonoma County Director of Transportation & Public Works, as identified in the City's Final EIR, so that the City may mitigate the City park project's unavoidable significant adverse.impacts of increased accidents to cars, bicyclists, .and/or pedestrians on Sonoma Mountain Road. To that end the County grants the City of Petaluma full and complete access to all portions of Sonoma Mountain Road to construct those road safety improvements necessary to reduce, to an insignificant level; the identified (in the City's Final EIR) significant road safety impacts. To the extent that the acquisition and/or condemnation of private property is appropriate for the installation of those road safety improvemenlts, the County consents to the City's exercise of those powers. This permission and consent from the County to the City shall be liberally and broadly construed so that the City of Petaluma may fully mitigate, to the level of insignificance, any adverse impacts of the City's project, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
  2. The County Director of Transportation & Public Works is directed to consult and cooperate with the City's Department of Public Works to assist the City to make needed road safety improvements. The County Director of Transportation & Public Works is also directed to provide the City with all information that the County has relating to Sonoma Mountain Road in the event that the City wishes to directly fund and complete the necessary road safety improvements, identified in the City's Final EIR, to mitigate any adverse impact to the level of insignificance. Alternatively, if the City wishes to raise and deposit with the County the funds necessary to make the needed improvements, the County will use City funds and proceed with the needed road safety improvements as a County project.
  3. The County grants and conveys to the City, as a gift and at no cost the County's entire property interests in the county roadways from the Petaluma city limits to Lafferty Ranch, to allow the City to make needed road safety improvements recommended in the City's Final EIR and to mitigate any advise impacts, identified in the City's Final EIR, to the level of insignificance. The county roadways so granted and conveyed to the City are:
    1. Sonoma Mountain Road between Adobe Road and Lafferty Ranch (approximately 3.01 miles from Post Mile 10.00 to Post Mile 13.01), and
    2. Adobe Road between Sonoma Mountain Road and East Washington Street (approximately 0.83 miles from Post Mile 13.42 to Post Mile 14.25), and
    3. East Washington Street from the Petaluma City limit toAdobe Road (approximately 0.23 miles from Post Mile 10.78 to Post Mile 11.01).
  4. The County expresses its readiness to cooperate with the City for the public good, and looks .forward to continuing mutual efforts, and to working with the City .in a consmictive and positive way. The City's Final EIR notes that Sonoma Mountain Road is a road that currently experiences a higher than normal accident rate and accidents involving a disproportionate number of young drivers. The members of the Board of.Supervisors know that these road safely issues concern the members of the City Council just as it concerns the Board members. For these reasons the Board of Supervisors determines that it is reasonably feasible that road safetly improvements, as identified in the City's Final EIR, are needed to mitigate the adverse impacts of the City's project to the level of insignificance, and are an integral and inseparable part of the City's project.
  5. The County anticipates that the City, if it approves the Lafferty Ranch park project, will mitigate, to the level of insignificance, any adverse traffic safety impacts identified in the Final EIR. If the City elects to proceed with plans for opening the park without making needed road safety improvements and does not accept the.road, the County will require, as mitigation the City to fully indemnify the County for damages which may result from the City project.
  6. The Director of Transportation & Public Works and the County Counsel are authorized to meet with representatives of the City of Petaluma and to report further to the Board regarding any developments in this matter.

SUPERVISORS:

CALE: KERNS: KELLEY: REILLY: SMIIH:

Ayes: __5___ Noes: _____ Absent: ______ Abstain: _____


COUNTY OF SONOMA

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

575 ADMINISTRATION DRIVE, RM. 100A
SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA 95403

(707) 565-2241
FAX (707) 565-3778

EEVE T. LEWIS
COUNTY CLERK

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD

TIM SMITH
CHAIRMAN

MIKE KERNS
VICE CHAIRMAN

MICHAEL J. CALE

PAUL L. KELLEY

MIKE REILLY

October 16, 2001

Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
Petaluma City Council
11 English Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Via Fax (778-4419)

Re: Lafferty Ranch Park Revised Final Environmental Impact Report &
Improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road

Dear Mayor Thompson and Members of the City Council:

After reviewing the Lafferty Ranch Park Revised Final Environmental Impact Report ("final EIR") for the Lafferty Ranch project, the County, through its Board of Supervisors, previously expressed concerns to the City regarding public safety impacts resulting from opening the Lafferty Ranch to public access without making necessary improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road. Those concerns were expressed in the Board Chairman's letter to you of March 20, 2001, and the Board Resolution No. 01-0308 adopted that same day.

It is our understanding that the City Council intends to hold a special meeting the evening of October 16, 2001, to consider certification of the final EIR and possible action on the Lafferty Ranch project. Consistent with direction set forth in Board Resolution No. 01-0308, our staff reviewed a copy of your staff report for your upcoming special meeting and has briefed us in connection with this matter. We thought that it would be appropriate to let you know where we stand on the concerns which we previously raised in March of 2001.

We know that you wil understand our position in this matter. We expect that the Petaluma City Council would object if the County attempted to locate a county facility in the City without mitigating the adverse impacts. We note that when another City - Santa Rosa - decided to go forward with its Geysers Project in the north County, Santa Rosa mitigated the impacts associated with the City project. Santa Rosa did not claim that such mitigation was beyond its "jurisdiction," nor did it try to avoid responsibility for the full costs of carrying out its project. We ask you to take the same approach. And we would like to make four other points for your consideration.


Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
October 16, 2001
Page Two

1. City Jurisdiction Over Road Improvements.

At pages 11 through 13 of the City Staff Report, your staff incorrectly states that Sonoma Mountain Road is a road over which the City does not have "jurisdiction" to amke the needed road safety improvements. We disagree. As stated in our March 20, 2001, correspondence, our County Counsel has reviewed the matter and believes that the City has the requisite jurisdiction and authority to make needed safety improvements to roads from the City limits to the entrance of the Lafferty Ranch by virtue of Government Code Sections 38300 and 38304 and other State laws. The statutes are clear. But even if there was some doubt, any doubt evaporated when we expressly gave you full and complete permission to make such road improvements as part of our prior Resolution No. 01-0308. We also reiterate here our decision to convey, at no cost, the County's entire interest in the roadways from the Petaluma City limits to Lafferty Ranch, to allow the City to make needed improvements to mitigate traffic safety impacts to an insignificant level.

Your City staff report also states "it would neither be economically feasible nor feasible from the standpoint of efficient administration of public roadways for the City to take over the County roads" and that "assumption by the City of maintenance and control over four miles of roadway outside City limiits would create islands of City streets within County roads that would present substantial administrative and regulatory complications..." We disagree. If the City determines to open a City park over four miles from its municipal boundaries and that such a park opening would not present "substantial administrative and regulatory complications," we respectfully point out that the same would be true of roadways leading from the City boundaries to the Lafferty Ranch.

2. County Contributions for Roadway Improvements on Sonoma Mountain Road.

The first full paragraph on page 13 of your staff report implies that the County would be willing to fund road improvements on Sonoma Mountain Road as partial mitigation for identified safety impacts, and that "the City shall continue to discuss with the County an appropriate contribution from the City to the financing of that program if approved by the County." This mitigation is illusory. Currently, the economy is in the midst of a recession, and state cutbacks loom. Funds available for county road improvements are extremely tight and already committed. There are no County funds available for financing improvements to Sonoma Mountain Road which would address, or partially address, those road safety impacts identified by the City's final EIR. Any suggestion otherwise is simply wrong. The County expects that, if the City exercises its jurisdiction to implement its park project, the City will utilize its funds and available financing mechanisms to mitigate identified road safety impacts to an insignficant level.


Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
October 16, 2001
Page Three

3. City Indemnification of County.

We are still hopeful that the City Council will, before taking any action on the project, include mitigation to reduce adverse traffic safety impacts identified in your final EIR to an insignificant level. The importance of doing this is underscored by the final EIR's conclusion that Sonoma Mountain Road currently experiences a higher than normal accident rate and accidents involving a disproportionate number of young drivers.

If the City intends to proceed forward without including adequate mitigation in its project, we reiterate our demand that the County requires, as mitigation, that the City fully indemnify the County for any damages which may result from the City project. We have no doubt, given the City's concurrent jurisdiction over Sonoma Mountain Road, that the City is exposing itself to a substantial liability risk by proceeding forward without needed traffic safety improvements. Since the County has no approval authority over your project, it is unacceptable that the City increase the County's liability exposure resulting from the City's project.

4. Road Improvement Feasibility and Segmentation.

We continue to note that the City has appropriate jurisdiction to make needed safety improvements and that such improvements are needed and feasible. It is our opinion that the grounds set forth in your staff report for claiming the non-feasibility of road improvements lack merit. Proceeding forward on the basis urged by your staff will, we believe, not only improperly segment your project but will also provide an unsound basis upon which to make any statement of overriding consideration associated with your decision.

Conclusion.

To conclude, we reiterate the points set forth in our March 20, 2001, correspondence and Resolution No. 01-0308 and request that both they, and this letter, be made part of your record. While we recognize that the City of Petaluma has decision making authority with respect to whether or not to open the Lafferty Ranch as a public park, we remain concerned that the final EIR and your staff incorrectly conclude that it is infeasible for the City to make needed road safety improvements as part of your proposed project. The City has a variety of potential financing mechanisms available to it including, but no limited to, inclusion of the affected roadways in any road bond proposals advanced by the City. Certainly it would be wrong for the City to attempt to place the traveling public in jeapordy, or to attempt to shift its responsibilities to the County.


Mayor Clark Thompson and City Council Members
October 16, 2001
Page Four

We strongly recommend that City representatives meet withthe County's regarding these matters before certifying the Final EIR or taking action on a project. We wish you well in your deliberations and again thank you for the opportunity to be heard in connection with this matter.

Very truly yours,

Tim Smith

TIM SMITH, Chair
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

Ed Walker

ED WALKER, Director
Sonoma County Department of Public Works

cc: Fred Stouder, Petaluma City Manager
Pamela Tuft, AICP, Director of Gereral Plan Administration, City of Petaluma