Lafferty Ranch Benefits & Costs

Presentation to Sonoma County Taxpayers Association,
January 15, 1998, by Bruce Hagen


Benefits: High demand for hiking in natural areas

  • 9/95 Sonoma Co Outdoor Recreation Plan: Poll (58% top-rated natural hiking.) SCORP Workshops: nearly all 80 people in Petaluma workshop recommended Lafferty as wilderness park, plus Moon (or similar property) as regional park.

  • 2/96 PD survey: 3 to 1 for keeping Lafferty (main reason: "it's irreplaceable".)

  • Spring 96: 6000 Petaluman signatures on Keep Lafferty initiative.

  • November 96: All 3 pro-Lafferty candidates elected, pro-swap candidates lost.

Planning Costs: Park Plan, EIR, Boundary Survey, Legal Fees

Actual/projected expense (1) Comments
$75k initial contract with Leonard
Charles for study, EIR
Without litigation threat, could have saved
$20-30k using "mitigated negative declaration)
$18k boundary survey Required due to litigation threat
$9k additional road study Required due to litigation threat (City staff
considers it unprecedented.)
$10-15k legal fees Required due to litigation threat
$5k misc administrative  
TOTAL $117-122k $57-72k due to litigation threat

Development Costs (2):

  • $127k for phase one (minimum to open park)

  • $98k additional for phase two (optional added trails). Less with volunteers.

  • Annual City Park Capital Improvement budget has averaged $1-3 million.

Operation & Maintenance Costs (3)

  • $9k per year net ($13k less $4k gate revenues)

  • Annual City Park maintenance budget is roughly $1.2 million.


Full development of Lafferty will cost roughly $350k (approximately $18/Petaluma household.) About 20% of this cost, and possibly more, is caused by and benefits no one but a few individuals living near the property, most of whom moved there after Lafferty was designated as a future parksite. Lafferty Park will be available to provide recreation, education, and inspiration to everyone in perpetuity, at an annual cost of about $.50/Petaluma household.


The Sonoma County Taxpayers Association should:

  1. Pass a resolution in support of expeditious completion of the Lafferty EIR and opening of the park.

  2. Send a letter to the Sonoma Mountain Conservancy asking their cooperation in minimizing further unnecessary taxpayer expenses in the completion of the Lafferty EIR and opening of the park.

(1) From City documents and 1/15/1998 phone conversation with Jim Carr, Petaluma Parks and Recreation Director
(2) From draft Lafferty Management Plan, Dec 1997
(3) IBID

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