Scaled-back 18-wheeler parking restrictions pull ahead to full San Antonio City Council

New proposal would ban overnight parking on most, but not all, city streets

SAN ANTONIO – A plan to further restrict 18-wheeler street parking in San Antonio is on the road again and headed to the full city council.

The Public Safety Committee voted Tuesday to put the latest proposal to prevent semi-trucks from parking overnight on most city streets onto an April city council agenda. However, the plan would not be up for a vote right away.

Some committee members appeared hesitant to give their full support because of the struggles truck drivers already face finding parking.

“It feels like right here, what we’re doing is we’re establishing an ordinance like this that will impact small businesses without seeking alternatives to support the businesses,” said Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (D2), who suggested first taking up the plan during one of the council’s “B-Sessions,” which are discussion-only.

Under state law, semi-trucks are already prohibited from parking overnight in residential subdivisions, and the city has additional restrictions extending to all hours of the day.

However, Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) asked the city to consider expanding the ban beyond residential areas because of complaints about trucks legally parked and packed onto some commercial streets.

People who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting said they worry about safety and the damage large trucks could cause to roadways over time.

“It’s a problem that you’re going to see. It’s a map that the police chief is going to show you. It’s a problem. It is in every single one of the districts in the city,” Pelaez told the committee members at Tuesday’s meeting.

Pelaez submitted his request in May 2022, but it took until September 2023 to make it to the Public Safety Committee for the first time.

In that original proposal six months ago, San Antonio police recommended banning overnight parking for semi-trucks on every city street.

The committee voted at that time to send the plan to the full city council, but after additional research and outreach, a slightly altered proposal still ended up back on its Tuesday agenda.

Instead of a total ban, the updated proposal would ban overnight parking on streets within 1,000 feet of residential areas. That would raise the prohibited overnight parking areas in San Antonio from about 41% of the city to 78%.

But the question remains: where are the trucks supposed to go?

Private parking lots exist, but SAPD only found eight locations “in and around” San Antonio offering commercial vehicle parking, though it warned that was “not an all-inclusive list.”

The lots are also already packed. One truck yard that didn’t appear on SAPD’s list told KSAT in September that it had a waitlist more than 50 trucks long, and the other lots its operators knew of had waitlists, too.

David Olson, the co-founder of the truck parking chain Riggy’s, said his company is building a new location with about 200 spots off of I-10 on the East Side. Riggy’s research found there are roughly 4,200 trucks within 25 miles of San Antonio, not counting larger operators, which often have their own lots.

“It’s tough,” Olson said of the dilemma local truckers face with tightened street parking restrictions. “They park there because they don’t have an option, not because they necessarily want to.”

SAPD Chief William McManus said the city sent out more than 400 informational mailers to trucking companies to gather input and held two meetings in February, though only a handful of people actually attended.

“My interpretation of that (is) there was just not that much interest,” McManus said.

Michael Valdez, whose grandfather and uncle are truck drivers, told the committee he was one of the few people who attended the meetings. He questioned whether the city’s efforts could truly count as outreach.

“When truck drivers are on the road working, unable to attend these two meetings because they are out working providing for their families?” Valdez questioned.

Other large Texas cities have already clamped down on street parking for tractor-trailers outside residential areas.

Dallas only allows 18-wheelers to park for repairs or to load or unload, and Fort Worth only permits parking for up to two hours.

Like the original proposal the Public Safety Committee considered in September, Houston bans parking on all public streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., except for loading and unloading.

Like San Antonio, Austin does not currently restrict street parking for 18-wheelers outside of residential areas.

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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