One of the main obstacles to opening Lafferty Park has been that Sonoma Mountain Road leading to the property is extraordinarily dangerous, and that additional traffic cannot be introduced there without very expensive widening and straightening of the road. These concerns have been raised in numerous letters from Sonoma Mountain Conservancy (SMC) lawyers, and are summarized in a "Sonoma Mountain Road Safety Binder" the SMC disseminated in 2001 to city and county officials. The following talking points are Friends of Lafferty Park's rebuttal to the key points in that binder, and in other SMC communications on this topic.

  1. In letters submitted by Steven Butler and Les Perry for the Sonoma Mountain Converancy as input to Petaluma's Environmental Impact Report for Lafferty Park, they state, "On average, there is one rollover a month on Sonoma Mountain Road" is light years away from reality. According to the SMC's own statistics, there were 52 reported accidents in the 10-year period from 1985 to 1995.  Thats less that one accident every other month, and their own statistics make it clear that the vast majority of these are very minor -- drive off the road and hit the fence.  The EIR consultants came up with a similar number of accidents (49) for the 12-year period from 1987 through 1998.  Of these, 9 were "overturns" (less than one per year).  One resulted in death and 5 in serious injury -- about one serious accident every 18 months.

  2. The claim that Sonoma Mtn. Road is "the most dangerous road in the county," which has been repeated often in the press, is not even claimed by the SMC.  They claim that it is "one of the most dangerous...".  But their comparison statistics are fishy.  The stats they cite for Sonoma Mtn. Road come from a different source (presumably their hired consultant -- Steve Weinberger of W-TRANS) than the stats for other roads.  They do not give the source data or documents for either.

  3. One of the most alarming stats and graphics distributed by SMC is that 17 accidents occurred on Sonom Mtn. Road during a 13-month period, Nov. 1998 - Dec. 1999.  This is the period, we know from SMC testimony before the Petaluma City Council, where Peter Pfendler, himself, was running down to the road every time he heard a crash and snapping pictures with his camera. These pictures are included in the SMC road safety binder.

Well, on close examination, these 17 accidents included:

  1. 5 accidents on the road beyond the Lafferty gate;

  2. Many unreported accidents.  Thus the implied comparison to other roads is completely bogus, since the stats for other roads include only reported accidents.

  1. Furthermore, as noted before, a very large number of the accidents (nearly half) occur at night when the park would be closed.