San Antonio considers a big rig parking ban on commercial streets

SAN ANTONIO — On Wednesday, the San Antonio City Council will discuss a plan to restrict big rig parking on city streets.

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez is proposing a new ordinance that would prevent 18-wheelers from parking on commercial streets overnight. 

It’s already illegal for semis to park on residential roads. Pelaez believes there should be at least a 1,000-foot of buffer on commercial streets near neighborhoods.

“We’ve got to solve for the best interest of truck drivers, while at the same time solving the best interest of homeowners,” Pelaez said.

On Beckwith Boulevard near San Antonio Fire Station #51, there are several semis parked on the street at all times.

“It’s usually packed,” said John Wood, the chairman of the Oakland Heights Homeowner’s Association.  “They park every day, overnight. A lot of the businesses have had to get rid of their street parking to get ‘No Parking’ signs just to get rid of them. The [drivers] have family members or an Uber come pick them up. They do not live here, they are not part of these businesses. These are just areas they are using because it’s free parking.”

According to Wood, the parked big rigs are causing safety concerns.

“We have three major schools in the area,” he said. “Kids are walking here all the time. The trucks obstruct the view and cause a hazard. The road is extremely narrow, so cars are having to swerve to get around them. You have a fire station right here, so imagine the firetrucks are also swerving. They park by the stop sign and you can see the trucks are also blocking a fire hydrant, not to mention the damage they are causing to the road.”

At a recent Public Safety Committee meeting, trucking advocates argued there is simply not enough commercial parking in San Antonio. City staff identified eight privately-owned lots that would need to accommodate thousands of semis if the ban went into effect.

David Olson, who is the co-founder of truck parking chain Riggy’s, spoke at the March 19 meeting.

“The statistics around truck parking are fairly staggering,” said Olson. “A survey conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, American Trucking Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association revealed that there was just one parking spot for every 11 drivers on the road today. So, the demand is pretty staggering. Furthermore, a study done by Trucker Path revealed that 75% of drivers have admitted to violating their hours to find parking and 96% admitted to parking illegally.”

The Texas Trucking Association responded to the proposal. A spokesperson released the following statement:

“While we can empathize with the San Antonio City Council’s concerns over unauthorized or unsafe parking, continuing to ban truckers from parking in the very neighborhoods they live in is not the answer. Instead TXTA and its member companies would like to see actions that address the problem – not just the symptoms. And this includes access to safe and secure parking for the one out of 14 citizens in Bexar County that work in the trucking industry.”

Several city council members have said these concerns will need to be addressed for them to support the ordinance.

“What we are going to be looking at is either incentivizing truckers to take their trucks out [to the privately owned lots], or maybe finding facilities within city limits to be able to facilitate [parking] and make it easier for drivers,” Pelaez said.

“We are absolutely for the trucking industry,” said Wood. “We are in support of the 18-wheelers. But we need them to find a place that is safe for their rigs and is safe for the community. This street is not it.”

The San Antonio City Council will discuss the issue at the Council B Session starting at 2 p.m. on May 15.  If approved, the ordinance will come back to city council for a final vote in the coming months.

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