BENICIA -- The city's eminent domain dilemma is headed to a vote Tuesday as the City Council decides whether to take private property to build a park-and-ride.
The issue concerns a proposed park-and-ride and bus hub at the corner of Park Road and Industrial Way, in the Benicia Industrial Park.
The project is part of a larger effort to increase transportation options in the industrial district, regarded as an important regional employment center. It's been in the planning stages for more than a decade.
The city has secured $1.75 million in grant funding to build the facility but must act quickly or risk losing the funds to shovel-ready projects in other counties, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
However, the owners of the proposed project site -- the Barragan family of Concord -- have not said whether they're willing to sell their 1-acre gravel lot, where they operate a taco truck for truckers.
The family has been in negotiations with the city, demanding a reserved spot on the site for their truck and a mobile food vending ordinance -- already in the works -- to ensure their business is properly permitted.
They've also asked for curb improvements and other concessions should they choose to move their truck to another undeveloped site within the industrial park.
The family has also alleged shortcomings in the project's environmental documents, which city officials have denied.
Neither side returned calls for comment after the latest round of talks Friday at City Hall.
Meanwhile, council members have been tight-lipped on the sensitive subject.
Councilman Mark Hughes, an outspoken private-property rights advocate, has previously expressed his discomfort with eminent domain. However, Hughes told the Times-Herald he'll wait until Tuesday to come to a conclusion on the matter.
Councilman Alan Schwartzman said he's "not too keen" on the idea of using eminent domain. But he, too, said he hadn't made up his mind regarding the project.
Council members have also struggled with the idea of walking away from grant money originally requested in 2004. Further, city officials say the project could lead to more transit-oriented grant opportunities.
The proposed bus hub would be served by Fairfield and Suisun Transit route 40, which links Vacaville and Walnut Creek BART during the weekday commute period. The route currently stops at Benicia Road and Industrial Way.
The project would enhance the existing bus stop by adding shelters, 50 parking spaces and a drop-off/pick-up zone for riders.
The lot's size, shape and location -- near the Bayshore Road entrance to Interstate 680 -- factored into its selection for the project, according to the city.
Should the council move the project forward, the Solano Transportation Authority would begin a series of steps, including scheduling an appraisal of the property and negotiating just compensation. If the negotiations are unsuccessful, public hearings would be held to acquire the property by eminent domain using State Transit Assistance funds.
The council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 250 East L St.
What: Benicia City Council meeting
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: 250 East L St.