BENICIA -- Like many truck drivers in these parts, Reynaldo Salcedo enjoys stopping at the El Ranchero taco truck for lunch.
So when he and other customers learned last week that the family business is threatened by a proposed park-and-ride project, they were concerned.
"Everybody knows them," Salcedo said Wednesday as he climbed into his Foster Lumber delivery truck with his food. "It's not good."
The city is on an aggressive timeline to complete the $1.75 million project because of deadlines attached to grant funding. However, the Barragans, a Concord family that owns the taco truck -- which sits on the gravel lot selected for the project -- have expressed an uneasiness about selling the property.
That left the City Council on Tuesday facing the difficult decision of whether to open the door for the possible use of eminent domain or walk away from a public project that's taken years to develop.
"If they are not interested in selling the property, regardless of accommodations that are made, then we can pretty much say right now that it's going to eminent domain," Councilman Mark Hughes said. "And that's the major concern I have with this."
The one-acre lot is located on Park Road just south of Industrial Way. It's next to bus stops served by Fairfield and Suisun Transit route 40, which links Fairfield to Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek BART.
The proposed project would bring 50 parking spaces and sheltered bus stops, among other amenities for commuters. Local transit officials see the project as enhancing the sole bus stop serving the industrial park, which is home to more than 600 businesses and about 7,000 jobs.
To move the project forward, the council is considering whether to enter into an agreement with the Solano Transportation Authority to acquire the property using $500,000 in State Transit Assistance Funds. The project also is funded by $1.25 million in Regional Measure 2 grant money that must be fully allocated by the end of March, city officials say.
According to the project timeline, the property would have to be acquired by the end of April, with construction starting in June. The use of eminent domain -- where land can be taken for public use if just compensation is paid -- could be required if the owners don't sell because the funders would need assurance of the project being completed, city officials said.
The Barragans, meanwhile, have asked for more time to negotiate a possible resolution, adding they're in no hurry to sell. The family, which also owns Los Rancheros Supermarket in Concord along with two other food trucks, has owned the Benicia property for more than 20 years.
"We would definitely like to negotiate with them but not in a pressure time frame where you have to make a decision right away," Jose Barragan said Wednesday.
He and his brother, Hector, shared that message with the council Tuesday. "Our main concern is we'd like to still accommodate our customers."
At the family's request, the council postponed the item for two weeks to allow city staff time to sit down with the property owners about the acquisition process.
City officials previously met with two members of the family to discuss the project, but City Manager Brad Kilger on Wednesday said "it's a very large family, and it became apparent ... there may be some communication issues."
City officials also said they plan to speak to Solano Transit Authority officials to see how the council's goals of treating the family with fairness during the acquisition process can be addressed.
As part of any deal to sell the land, the family said it may seek exclusive rights to provide food service at the bus hub if the project is approved. They also said they want their current customers to be able to access the property without having to park elsewhere in the neighborhood, as city officials have suggested.
"If we have the right to remain there ... I believe we could work something out," Jose Barragan said. "My dad, he's the one who started all this, and we'd like to keep it that way. Maybe my children would like to work here ... who knows ... and keep it in the family for a long time."