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It’s OK to keep on trucking in Lathrop but just don’t park

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POSTED March 14, 2012 1:01 a.m.

LATHROP — Lathrop generates its fair share of truck traffic with its close proximity to I-5 and Highway 99 and a bustling industrial sector that appreciates the location,

But while day-trip drivers and commercial haulers get the added perk of leaving their rig at the office, a growing sector in Lathrop – independent owner-operators – are left scrambling to find a place to keep their tractor-trailer parked overnight.

And it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting any immediate relief from the City of Lathrop.

Nearly five years after the issue first came before them, the Lathrop City Council once again decided not to take any immediate action on behalf of the local truck owners that struggle to find places within the city limits where they can safely park.

When the owners of the Crossroads Business Park shot down a city proposal that would have allowed for the surface streets within the business park to be used for that purpose, the council was left with few other options. They instructed staff to seek out alternatives that can satisfy both local residents and business owners as well as the trucking community.

One local resident has already been trying to address the problem by converting a vacant parcel he owns into a 20-acre truck yard where overnight parking would be allowed.

A zoning snag, he said, fouled up his initial application to San Joaquin County. He’s now looking at other options that would allow the space to be constructed and made available. A similar lot – which rents out spaces to drivers who don’t have anywhere else to park their trucks – has slots available, according to Public Works Director Steve Salvatore. 

Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos championed a forum-style meeting where truckers would be able to come in and express their opinions to local elected officials. He also hopes they could provide frontline insight into what life is like for drivers in a community that has neither a public parking yard or a private truck stop where overnight spaces – with hookups to air conditioning, heat, power and even high-speed Internet – are available.

But others  like Councilwoman Martha Salcedo have grown tired over the revolving conversation that focuses on the same problems without ever producing a solution.

“How many man hours have we spent on this issue?” Salcedo asked staff.

Closing the door on the issue was something that Bennie Gatto wants to see finally happen.

“This thing has been going on and on and on,” he said. “We can’t park trucks on our streets. That’s all there is to it. Your staff is telling you as much right here – there’s no place to accommodate them now.

“If you want to open up that can of worms then go ahead. But then you’re going to get somebody who wants to know why they can’t park their boat on the street or their RV on the street. Trucks are trucks and they need to be parked somewhere else.”

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