Truck yard operator evicted from lot near Port of Oakland

September 13, 2013 7:04:48 PM PDT
Some East Bay truckers are caught in the middle of a beef between the operator of a truck yard and those who want to develop the parcel it sits on. On Friday things came to a head when sheriff's deputies showed up to get that yard cleared.

This is a day when the developer won. This is a story about a business you might never know exists, until it goes away; the result, a logjam of big rigs on Oakland streets.

You may have noticed more than a few big rigs stacking up on the streets of West Oakland Friday night.

"We had nowhere to go," Bill Aboudi said.

Aboudi runs Oakland Maritime Support Services on city land in the old Oakland Army base. His business is a holding zone for the thousands of trucks going in and out of the Port of Oakland every day.

On Friday morning, Alameda County Sheriff's deputies showed up, blocked the entrance, and evicted him along with the smaller vendors who work inside.

"We can't allow any more vehicles to go on the property," one deputy said.

The city took the land back because it has an agreement with a developer to build a state-of-the-art truck service center.

The state has pledged almost $250 million for the project, but it must start by December 31. Project developer Phil Tagami is the man running it.

"Courts ruled in favor of the city of Oakland and issued a judgment and rendered possession back to the city of Oakland, and the Alameda County Sheriff was out there enforcing that today," he said.

According to the city and developers, Mr. Aboudi's operation has a dubious record. They cite environmental and labor violations. The teamsters have filed complaints, there's no sympathy.

"All of the tenants on the city's part of the Army base have known for over year," said Teamsters Political Director Doug Bloch. When asked what Aboudi's done, Bloch answered, "Apparently he hasn't done anything and now he's left a whole bunch of truck drivers who rent spaces from him with nowhere to go."

"It is sad that people puttin out garbage like that," Aboudi said.

Aboudi says he began moving two weeks ago, but claims the city never gave him specifics until 5 p.m. Thursday. Some of the trucks squeezed into a five acre lot a few blocks away. Drivers of others stood outside his closed lot and fumed.

"Put me close to being out of business," trucker Dion Crazraft said.

"I have containers costing 85 to 150 a day until I get them back to port," truck company owner Ann Hyer said.

As for the overflow of trucks, you won't need to look hard for them.

"I mean, there is no place for them to go," Aboudi said. "What do you expect them to do?"

"The victim here is actually the community because these trucks need a place to park," Bloch said.

Tagami adds, "I think it's business, cut and dry. The courts have made it pretty clear that the city is entitled to possession of this property. We're under agreement to move forward with the project and we plan to do just that."

The project will eventually move forward.

In a strange twist, Aboudi says he hopes to establish a business in the new facility when it does open.


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