After being forced to relocate from where it had been operating for nearly two decades, Nelly's taco truck has now been offered a new home not far from its original location on Vineyard Avenue.
Officials with Ruby Hill Winery said Wednesday afternoon that they offered truck owner Nelly Ramirez a place to set up on their property during a meeting with her Monday -- weeks after they asked the city of Pleasanton to address traffic problems they said her truck was causing outside their premises.
Ramirez indicated Wednesday morning that she needed more time to consider their offer of a parking spot on their gravel plot on Piemonte Drive, the private road off Vineyard Avenue that leads to the Casa Real event center and winery, Ruby Hill Winery officials said. For now she is parking in a turnout across the street from the winery.
“She said to us that she’s getting a lot of traffic where she is now and she’s never been on Piemonte,” said Melody O’Shea, COO of Beets Hospitality, the management company that operates Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery. “I think she wants to take a little time (to decide). We said, ‘Great if you want to stay (where you are now), and if you don’t we have a home for you on Piemonte.’”
Ramirez was not at the truck when the Pleasanton Weekly stopped by Wednesday afternoon. When approached July 18, she said she spoke little English and declined a full interview. A subsequent interview with her has not yet been scheduled.
Until this month, the Mexican food truck had operated out of city-owned right-of-way on Vineyard Avenue since the late 1990s. The city had crafted a policy allowing that use so long as the truck remained off the road and didn't create any traffic issues, according to senior code enforcement officer Mark Dennis.
Dennis said the city in the past received “a number of unfounded complaints” about food truck patrons parking illegally on the winery property that they did not pursue because it is private land.
But in April, code enforcement officials followed up on a complaint that the truck’s patrons were creating traffic hazards on Vineyard Avenue after signs were put up at the winery and event center indicating their parking was for their customers only.
Between April and June, Dennis said he visited the site a few times and chased off a couple food truck patrons parked illegally but took no enforcement action.
Winery officials said Wednesday that they asked the city in early June to step in and address traffic issues they saw being generated by the food truck.
“Nelly had always been parked on Vineyard and the spillover of her customers ended up on (Piemonte Drive),” O’Shea said. “That was fine for nine years...But then you have the expansion of Highway 84 and construction traffic, and that three-way intersection of Vineyard, Isabel and Piemonte became a bottleneck, a cluster, a jam. It was very dangerous.”
Mike Callahan, a managing member at Ruby Hill Winery who owns the property and Piemonte Drive, added that he saw business increase at Nelly’s food truck over the last few years, bringing more spillover food truck traffic onto the winery property.
“It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough and getting worse and worse that we needed to address it,” he said. “Ultimately we did go to the city and ask for some help after six months of trying to negotiate.”
Dennis said he visited the site around lunchtime for four consecutive days at the end of June and documented 21 traffic violations, mainly for patrons blocking the bike lane, parking in traffic lanes and the intersection and jaywalking.
After warning Ramirez at the beginning of the week that she needed to address the issues, on June 30 Dennis told her she could no longer operate out of the city-owned right-of-way.
“There was just no adequate or legal parking for any of her clientele,” Dennis said.
By the following week, Ramirez’s truck had moved across the street to a turnout in Alameda County’s jurisdiction. It was still there Wednesday as its owner reportedly mulled an offer to relocate back to the other side of Vineyard Avenue.
The new location offered to Nelly’s food truck is just behind the Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery sign on a gravel plot where patrons would sometimes park when the truck was in the right-of-way. Winery officials said as part of their offer, Ramirez would relocate on infrequent days when the space would be needed for overflow parking for large events.
“We felt as business owners we would come to a nice peaceful compromise with the taco truck,” Callahan said, adding their offer is not time-stamped.
Asked about the proposed resolution, Dennis said he hoped things work out well for Nelly’s taco truck.
“The only issue the city has is if we receive a complaint regarding traffic hazards created by her clientele then we have to act on those complaints,” he said. “I’m hoping if she agrees to the new location that doesn’t present itself in the future and things work out for Ms. Ramirez and her business succeeds.”
Editor Jeremy Walsh contributed to this story.