SAN BENITO — Since 2012, Michael and Dora Perez have parked their 18-wheeler at the San Benito Industrial Park.
Earlier this week, the owners of DaMar Transports left their Freightliner at the same spot — near Gillman Chevrolet on Dancy Drive.
Less than two hours later, the city had towed the truck away.
“For over six years, we parked there,” Dora Perez said yesterday. “We’ve never had issues with the San Benito Police Department.”
The couple’s truck wasn’t the only one towed.
During the past week, the city has towed other trucks away.
At City Hall, this is part of a crackdown on rigs left parked around town.
Officials are enforcing a 1995 ordinance prohibiting truckers from parking on city streets.
“Over the past week, a few truck trailers were towed as a result of the truck operators violating city ordinance,” Fred Bell, assistant to the city manager, stated earlier this week.
In this town, home to about 100 truckers, David Mares is also concerned.
Earlier this week, Mares said he was warned his trucks would be towed if he continued to park them at the industrial park.
Mares, owner of Nitro Express, operates five trucks and trailers.
“We’ve been parking there for four years,” Mares said. “We’ve never had issues. Then all of a sudden — this.”
According to Bell, business owners are complaining about trucks parked near their businesses.
The sprawling San Benito Industrial Park, stretching across about five streets, is home to several companies, some operating tractor-trailers, as well as the San Benito school district’s bus barn.
“Complaints from local businesses were received regarding 18-wheelers and trailers being parked and left unattended overnight on public streets in certain areas of the city, including the industrial park,” Bell stated.
Police officers have been warning truckers not to leave their trucks parked on the street, Bell stated.
“Officers made contact with violators and provided warnings for more than a week,” he stated. “Afterwards, officers who observed parked trailers in these areas of the city enforced the ordinance and, after being unable to identify and contact the owner, had the trailers removed.”
Like Mares, Josue Sepeda also received a warning.
“San Benito PD came by my house and let me know that I cannot park my truck in front of my house,” Sepeda posted on Facebook.
But Dora Perez said police gave her no warning.
“We were not aware,” she said. “Not once were we told we were parked illegally.”
For her and her husband, their Freightliner is their business on wheels.
After a week on the road, they park their truck and go home for the weekend.
During most weeks, they were parking their truck at the industrial park for about three days.
Across much of town, she said, signs warn truckers not to park rigs on city streets.
But at the industrial park, there are no signs warning parked trucks will be towed, she said.
“If there were signs, we’d be aware and we wouldn’t park there,” she said. “We are hard-working people and follow the law the best that we can. But the city has failed to provide enough notice and signs saying that they will start enforcing a city ordinance.”
In San Benito, truckers don’t have too many places to park their rigs, Dora Perez said.
Off Williams Road, she said, a Valero convenience store offers truckers about eight spaces to park.
After she and her husband paid $350 in towing fees, they parked their truck in the last spot available.
“It’s an inconvenience because it’s very crowded,” she said. “There are a lot of truck drivers here.”
Mares said some truckers are parking their rigs in Harlingen and Brownsville.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s hard to drive to Brownsville or Harlingen just to check on your truck. It puts a big damper on you. It hurts me and a bunch of other drivers.”