PD Editorial: Open the gates to Lafferty Ranch

Petaluma residents collectively own one of Sonoma County's premier properties, a hillside ranch on land once owned by Mariano Vallejo that offers panoramic views from the Santa Rosa Plain to Mount Tamalpais, the Bay Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Despite the city's best efforts to open this space to the public, most Petaluma residents have never set foot on Lafferty Ranch. Why? For decades, neighbors have fought plans for a small parking lot and hiking trails on the property.

As Matt Brown of the Petaluma Argus-Courier reported (“Lafferty ranch trails planned,” Sunday), the city is pushing forward after the most recent lawsuit was withdrawn. Given the history of this project, still more litigation is possible. But the city's case has only gotten stronger with the discovery of county property easements recorded in 1866 and 1869 that undercut claims that there is no public right of way to access to the property. Lafferty Ranch is a spectacular piece of public property. It's time for Petaluma residents, and the public in general, to see it firsthand.

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