Air Quality Management District starts investigation into mobile home park

A mobile home slated for demolition sits behind a metal fence amid termoil surrounding the circumstances of the Soledad Trailer Lodge's closure. Austin Dave/The Signal

With demolition work conducted over the last couple of days at Soledad Trailer Lodge, staff with the South Coast Air Quality Management District visited the site Tuesday to investigate, officials said.

Parts of the abandoned mobile home park in Canyon Country had quickly turned into piles of debris covered by large clear tarps. Crews that were seen maneuvering bulldozers and trucks for demolition late last week had halted work Tuesday due to what could have been wet weather conditions and South Coast AQMD inspectors on the site.

“Inspectors responded to asbestos and were on site earlier today as part of an ongoing investigation,” Patrick Chandler, senior public information specialist with AQMD, said Tuesday. When asked about the details or initial findings, he responded, “I can only state that (the) investigation is ongoing.”

Chandler said inspectors received a notification from the city of Santa Clarita’s Building and Safety Department, but city building official John Caprarelli said, “None of our staff contacted AQMD. We don’t have regulatory authority at the mobile home park.”

While inspectors visited Soledad Trailer Lodge for their investigation, their work did not involve the topic of whether a permit to demolish was obtained. That’s because the district does not issue permits. According to AQMD, a city or county may require the owner or operator to apply for a permit to conduct the work.

City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan said, “Because this is a mobile home park, it is all under HCD (the California Department of Housing and Community Development) and they would be the ones requiring the permits.”

HCD does not require permits for demolition, either, according to Alicia Murrillo, a communications analyst with the state agency. “Since we don’t require demolition permits and they are not violating our regulations, we would not stop the work,” she said.

What is required by AQMD, however, is that the owner or operator of any building demolition or renovation activity complies with a series of requirements to limit asbestos emissions. Those requisites include a facility survey, a notification of intent to the AQMD to conduct work no later than 10 working days before demolition or renovation activities, cleanup procedures, and storage, disposal and landfilling requirements for asbestos-containing waste materials.

Exposure to asbestos can bring about severe health conditions and is now considered an “infamous public health menace,” according to The Mesothelioma Center. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals and cannot be seen, smelled or tasted; when exposed to fibers, the symptoms aren’t immediately noticed. But once in the body, “they never dissolve, and the body has extreme difficulty expelling them.” Trapped fibers can cause inflammation, scarring and may lead to genetic damage to the body’s cells.

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