BENICIA -- The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved taking private property by eminent domain to build a proposed park-and-ride lot.
At the same time, officials tried to assure the owners of a longtime taco truck operation there that their business will be protected if possible. A lawsuit could result if the truck is forced to move, the owners have indicated.
The city will work with the Solano Transportation Authority to develop the $1.75 million grant-funded project on a 1-acre lot in the Benicia Industrial Park.
Located at the southeast corner of Industrial Way and Park Road, the property is owned by the Barragan family of Concord, which has operated a taco truck there for 21 years.
The city is in ongoing negotiations with the family, which is seeking long-term access to the site for its mobile food-vending business.
In addition to an easement for its food truck, the family has asked that a bathroom be added to the project and that 20 of the lot's 46 parking spaces be reserved for lunchtime customers.
As leverage, the family has threatened to file a lawsuit challenging the project's environmental review if a deal can't be reached. City officials declined to comment on the legal threat.
City and Solano Transportation Authority officials said they are looking forward to more meetings with the family to work out a resolution.
Family members at the meeting also expressed optimism.
"We envision a bus hub full of vibrant energy, and we're looking forward ... to making our family food-vending business viable for years to come," Hector Barragan told the council.
His brother, Jose Barragan, added that their customers in the industrial park would hate to see them go.
"We've worked over 20 years building this business," he said. "Just survey our customers ... they are not happy about what's going on."
Councilman Mark Hughes assured the family that he is committed to seeing that both sides get a "fair" deal.
"We haven't closed the gap ... but we sure have come a long ways in a short time ... and I'm really pleased with that," Hughes said.
Hughes and Mayor Elizabeth Patterson both will serve on a subcommittee to monitor the eminent domain process, which will be controlled by the Solano Transportation Authority board.
The city is on an aggressive timeline to finish the $1.75 million project or risk losing grant funding originally approved in 2005, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
The project site was selected years ago because of its size, shape and location, according to the city.
The project would involve building a park-and-ride for about 50 cars, a passenger drop-off area, bike storage and a shelter for riders. It would be served by Fairfield and Suisun Transit route 40, which links Vacaville and Walnut Creek BART.
City officials say the project could be a catalyst for more bus service within the industrial park and could attract more grant funding for transit-oriented projects.