The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District was not designed to handle long-term maintained of thousands of acres of public lands. But its planned transfers of custodial properties has been delayed by continued the economic downturn.

Now, the County agency is saddled with a $1.7 million cost for annual upkeep of the 7,500 acres that it owns. Many of the properties were purchased to protect them from development until the state or cities could assume responsibilities. But the state has placed an indefinite hold on new properties. Similar financial constraints at the regional parks department have delayed additional transfers.

But Supervisors voted to put a rush on shifting responsibilities to other agencies. Not only is the current agency unable to handle the upkeep of the spaces, but they are unable to open them to general public use. That means that residents who saw their sales tax dollars flow into the original purchases have gone years without direct benefit.

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