Petaluma joins fight for Lafferty Ranch

Petaluma will add its weight to a renewed legal battle for public access on city-owned Lafferty Ranch northeast of town.

City Council members voted 5-1 during a closed session Monday night to join a lawsuit that was filed in January in Sonoma County Superior Court.

The move became necessary after a court decision last week in which Judge Elliot Daum ruled that a private citizens group that initiated the suit did not have legal standing to fight the battle on behalf of Petaluma.

Friends of Lafferty Park, Bill Kortum, Larry Modell and other longtime advocates for a park on the 270-acre site off Sonoma Mountain Road filed suit against adjacent landowners Kimberly Pfendler and the Bettman-Tavernetti family, among others.

"We said, 'We're citizens, we're taxpayers, that's our property too; we have standing to sue,'" said Matt Maguire of Friends of Lafferty. "But Judge Daum took a more narrow reading of the law. Nonetheless, the city and county have a lot at stake here. We're confident the county will see the wisdom of joining our suit."

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