TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – In their natural habitat, like the interstate or a truck stop, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles blend right in.
But when they’re lined up in a neighborhood, that’s a different story.
“I don’t personally love it,” said Carly Howard, who lives in the Presidential Meadows subdivision in Travis County. The subdivision is surrounded by, but not inside, Manor city limits.
“It’s definitely not what we want in the neighborhood,” Howard said.
She said she started noticing the trucks lining up along George Washington Street, a thoroughfare in the neighborhood, last summer. She said it was just one or two in the beginning.
“What’s the most that you’ve seen lined up here?” KXAN Investigator Mike Rush asked her.
“Seven,” answered Howard. “Yeah, seven in a row, some with a full cargo load.”
Howard isn’t the only one who’s noticed.
“It’s the same complaint, different day,” said Mou Urias-Roy, a member of the neighborhood’s homeowners association.
“It’s like looking at a convoy,” Urias-Roy added. But she and others are less worried about appearance than safety.
“’Hey, I just nearly got hit’ or ‘I just had to slam my brakes’ or ‘My kid had to jump out of the way because a car came through, they didn’t see it’,” Urias-Roy recalled of the calls she’s gotten from neighbors.
Howard said when the trucks are lined up along George Washington Street, “you’re basically just looking into the front of a semi-truck.” She added, “You cannot see any other cars coming around the corner, so when you’re making that turn, you’re just kind of crossing your fingers that there’s no one coming.”
There’s also a bus stop, she said, at the intersection across the street where kids gather, and they’re also not able to see if someone’s coming before they cross the street.
As for why the trucks are parking there, the neighbors think some truck drivers may live in the neighborhood and others, seeing the trucks aren’t ticketed, followed suit.
KXAN Investigates wasn’t able to make contact with the truck drivers parking in the Presidential Meadows subdivision, but Austin-based truck driver Michael Lombard said he understands why they might be doing it.
“Within the city itself, there’s really nowhere to park,” said Lombard, who hauls farm and other equipment throughout Texas and around the country.
Lombard, and other truckers who reached out to us, say parking is a huge problem locally and around the nation.
According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, there is currently one parking spot for every 11 trucks.
North Carolina-based truck driver Alisha Snow hauls auto parts and dry ice around the country.
“Austin, Texas, is just as bad as anywhere else,” Snow said. “The only time you find parking in Texas is at a rest area in the middle of nowhere.”
Making matters worse, Lombard and Snow both said federal regulations limiting the amount of hours drivers can be on the road often mean they have to stop somewhere with no parking.
“That doesn’t leave us no other option than to park off of an exit, or a Walmart, or a parking lot or park on a residential street because we have no other options,” Snow said.
Howard and others, she said, have been in contact with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesperson told KXAN a deputy informed residents because the trucks are parked on a public road in the county, the truckers are within their rights.
The sheriff’s spokesperson also said it notified the neighbors that state law allows a subdivision to petition the county to have signs put up keeping commercial vehicles from parking overnight as long as at least 25% of the people living in the subdivision sign it.
What jurisdiction are they in?
Even with that solution available, Urias-Roy said neighbors were confused about who has jurisdiction over their subdivision.
“We’re like a black hole,” Urias-Roy said.
Presidential Meadows and a neighboring subdivision are surrounded by Manor, but in the county, which KXAN Investigates was able to confirm for the questioning neighbors with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, a Travis County spokesman and the city of Manor.
“I think with KXAN’s help, it definitely highlighted an issue and put a little more pressure on it to, hey, get us an answer,” Urias-Roy said.
She said now that they know they’re within Travis County’s jurisdiction, she and others plan to start a petition to get “no parking” signs put up.