Truck driver Toby Padilla lived in Rio Rancho, NM, for more than 21 years without any problems until two years ago when he and his family moved into their new home on a 1.5-acre lot, where he also started parking his gravel truck.
Padilla said that’s when the trouble began.
“At the time we moved in, we were only the second home in the development,” Padilla said. “We moved to this property so I would have a place to park my truck.”
Padilla said he was arrested and taken to jail after a neighbor complained that he was allegedly “conducting business and storing equipment” because he had his truck and a 39-foot flatbed trailer parked on his property. Two citations were supposedly mailed to his home, but Padilla said they were mailed to the wrong address.
“I never received either one of them, so I was arrested in front of my neighbor and my 12-year-old daughter, and my wife had to post bail to get me out,” he said.
The charges were later dropped.
“I was in compliance. I was not breaking the law,” he said. “I feel like I am being treated like a second-class citizen because someone thinks my truck is an eyesore.”
Padilla said he has made a point to attend every meeting on a proposed truck parking ordinance, which would prohibit heavy trucks from parking on residential property in the city.
OOIDA recently sent out a letter to truckers in Rio Rancho, urging them to attend a City Council meeting on Dec. 12 to discuss the proposed parking ban, which was also proposed about a year ago, but failed at that time to gain approval.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer called the proposed ordinance in Rio Rancho “ridiculous.”
“We need to create awareness and get folks keyed in on this so they can at least be heard,” Spencer said.
Another Rio Rancho trucker’s story
OOIDA member and Rio Rancho resident Jose Montoya averages more than 280 days on the road each year, but when he’s home, he parks his rig on his property. If the proposed ordinance becomes law, Montoya and other truckers would have to either build garages on their property or find other locations to park their trucks.
Jean Montoya, has priced what it would cost to have a garage constructed on their property to fully enclose her husband’s truck and tractor. The cost, she said, would be approximately $20,000 to build the garage, which doesn’t include the concrete floor.
If the ordinance is enacted, the other solution would be for truckers to find other places to park, which she said is not really a secure option for that in the city limits of Rio Rancho.
“Rio Rancho doesn’t have a truck stop, and the closest one is more than 20 miles away in Albuquerque, so I would have to go pick him up when he is home and take him back,” she said.
“Vandalism is another issue. One time we were sleeping in the truck and we had a quarter of a tank of fuel stolen from us, and that was while we were in the truck. I can’t imagine what would happen if nobody was in the truck at all.”
She is spearheading an effort to oppose the ordinance and has even served on a task force to make recommendations to the City Council on this issue. In the past, she has asked the city for a variance to build a taller privacy fence to ‘hide their truck,” but was told there was a city ordinance preventing them from building a fence taller than their existing 6-foot privacy fence.
Padilla said he is looking at building a wall to hide his truck, as well.
“I have heard another trucker use this term that I think is fitting: ‘It’s a shame that I have to hide what I do.’ ”
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer