Popular food truck battles city officials


The little red taco trailer known as Chela’s Tacos is not going anywhere. Recently, Chela’s was told by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) that they had to move off of their location at UTSA Blvd. and Utex Blvd. because they were allegedly in violation of TxDOT’s right of way, but Chela’s owner, Marty Davis, did his homework, and found that he was not violating any laws.

TxDOT has a policy of buying up all of the land adjacent to Texas’s roads and highways. This extra land is known as the right of way. TxDOT defines the right of way as:

“A general term denoting land, property or interest therein, usually in a strip, acquired for or devoted to a highway for the construction of the roadway. Right of way is the entire width of land between the public boundaries or property lines of a highway. This may include purchase for drainage.”

Chela’s is located just outside the right of way of UTSA Blvd. and Utex Blvd. Chela’s customers park in TxDOT’s right of way when ordering food from Chela’s, which TxDOT claims causes safety issues.

Davis claims that the right of way is used by drivers all over Texas to stop temporarily and repair broken down vehicles, to rest after a long trip, or just to get out and take a break from driving. He says that his customers are using the right of way in this manner in that they are temporarily stopping to purchase food and then be on their way.

Chela’s Tacos is one of the most popular mobile restaurants in San Antonio, and it attracts taco aficionados from all over the state; Chela’s was named by the Express News as the 2011 Readers Choice Best Food Truck/Mobile Dining Restaurant.

A year ago, Chela’s became aware of the right of way problem by TxDOT. Davis negotiated with TxDOT to move just outside the right of way boundary so that he was not in violation of this rule. Unfortunately, a new TxDOT official decided that this was still not good enough because of the parking situation with Chela’s customers. This is where the current battle started.

“This is just another example of big government wasting the tax dollars of the people of San Antonio,” said owner Marty Davis. “TxDOT does not have the right to make us move because we are not violating the right of way rule. We made an agreement with them a year ago and now it just seems like the new management has a personal vendetta against us.”

Davis said that TxDOT has been harassing him ever since. They even went so far as to try and get other government agencies, such as the San Antonio Police Department and the Department of Health, to try and put increased pressure on Davis to move Chela’s.

Even if they are forced to move, Davis would not move very far. Chela’s fall back location is just a few hundred feet away up Utex Blvd. Where TxDOT does not own the right of way.