On June 21, I spoke to Nelly Ramirez, owner of the taco truck, and she informed me that the City of Pleasanton had asked her to move her truck because it was obstructing traffic. This seemed a little odd to me because Nelly had been doing business in the same location for 18 years and to our knowledge there had never been any complaints about traffic obstruction.
Curious, I contacted the City of Pleasanton later that day and was told the person handling the case was the head of the code enforcement department, Mr. Mark Dennis. When I spoke to Mr. Dennis the same day, he explained that [removed], in front of which the truck sits, had complained to the city about it being there, even though the truck had been doing business there much longer than Casa Real or the Winery had been in existence. Mr. Dennis told me he did not know why the Casa Real wanted Nelly to move her truck.
I spoke again to the City’s enforcing agent on June 22 and learned that the City was working with Casa Real to force Nelly to move. On making further inquiries I was told that someone from Casa Real had said the reason they wanted the truck moved is that the people who bought food at the truck did not wear the right kinds of clothes to satisfy the operators of Casa Real---in other words, they were working class Latino people. (This is not in fact entirely true. Nelly’s clientele includes members of the Ruby Hill community and even the local fire department.)
I spent more than an hour talking with Mr. Dennis trying to find a workable solution to the problem. Eventually, he and I came up with five conditions that would have to be met if Nelly was to be allowed to continue to do business. They are (1) patrons' cars park on public property and off the asphalt, (2) they do not create a traffic hazard, (3) they are not on the pedestrian footpath, (4) they are not in the street, and (5) they are not parked on top of plants.
On June 27, I stopped by Nelly’s truck to have lunch and ran into Mr. Dennis parked 25 to 50 yards behind the truck. He was engaged in taking phots of ``violations” of the agreement. Nelly had made a sincere effort to comply with these rules by placing yellow cones in back of her truck to keep customers from parking there. A few customers did not yet understand the rules and parked close---within inches of the asphalt--in front of the truck, and I had to redirect them to another location. But before I could do so, Mr. Dennis was there with his camera taking photos of these so-called violations. As Mr. Dennis passed me, he would say “two,” “three,” etc. Finally, after several hours sitting in his car and waiting to pounce, he presented Nelly with a piece of paper showing that there were five rule violations. I corrected him, pointing out that in at least two cases, the drivers moved their cars immediately after I spoke to them. On June 30, 2017 the City of Pleasanton ordered Nelly to desist from doing business in her longtime location.
I spoke to my attorney about this case and he noted that often in cases like these, the situation is such that someone (e.g., representing Casa Real) who supports the City or members therein gets special favors for the support. There’s a bad smell coming from somewhere, and it most certainly isn’t coming from Nelly’s taco truck.
Clearly, what is need here are fewer enforcers and more accommodation of sincere attempts to do the right thing.