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County approves parking spot for truckers

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Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 10:00 pm

After several weeks of compromises, Panella Trucking of Stockton finally has permission to open unincorporated industrial areas in San Joaquin County for its migrant truckers to stay in their recreational vehicles overnight.

County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the trucking firm's request that would allow truckers who follow seasonal crops to park their RVs in those warehouse zones.

The parking sites will have shower hookups, restrooms and other basic amenities. While Panella already has one such place for its truckers in Stockton, it wanted to open the county to more such sites for a six-month period from June to November, said Kerry Sullivan, the county's community development director.

Mike Hakeem, attorney for Panella Trucking, said the migrant truckers follow the crops from Arizona to California, and often drive RVs to avoid paying for motels.

But the lack of places to park, he said, forces them to pay to stay at hotels or at less-than-desirable places.

Tuesday's approval didn't come easy. When Panella Trucking officials first made the request, supervisors had a host of concerns, including whether to allow families to stay overnight, what defined a trucker hauling produce, and who would monitor the sites.

Although supervisors wanted to exclude families, Hakeem said such a rule could violate federal laws.

On Tuesday, supervisors said they were concerned about substandard housing being established at the sites, or that another trucking firm might start charging rent.

But Hakeem said the county could posts notices in English and Spanish that the sites were rent free. He also said Panella Trucking had no problems with regular site checks.

If problems arise, Sullivan said, the county has the right to revoke the permit allowing the parking.

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