RV park residents concerned after violation notice

RV belonging to a resident who neighbors say has lived in the Cali-Lake RV park for over 3 decades. His is one of many trailers that may be forced to relocate. Many residents fear that they may not be able to find a home outside of their tight-knit community and could be forced onto the streets. September 19, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

If Idaho native Lacey Borland could describe what Cali Lake RV Resort in Agua Dulce offered her and her family, she would say: “home.”

“We came across this place, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Borland, who recently gave birth to her firstborn and moved to Cali Lake with her husband, Ryan, a few weeks ago. “This was like a miracle; everyone here is like family. They took us in and they’ve even gone to the store and gotten milk and fixed my generator when it broke down. This is home.” 

Cali Lake is nestled in a quiet canyon off a rural part of Soledad Canyon Road. 

Lacey Borland and her infant daughter Journey live in the Cali-Lake mobile home park, but are worried that they may be forced into homelessness if the state goes forward with plans to remove many of the residents of the complex. September 19, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The Borlands are just one in nearly 100 families settled at Cali Lake with similar sentiments and now share concerns about having to relocate — about half the park’s may have to leave by Jan. 14, after receiving a notice from Los Angeles County of overcrowding at the park. 

“The department (L.A. County Regional Planning) identified violations including illegal grading, illegal dumping, debris and exceeding the number of RVs,” said Edel Vizcarra, the planning and public works deputy for county Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Cali Lake’s current permit allows for only 47 spaces, but the RV park has 79, he said. 

“We did things for people no others would,” said RV resort owner and investor Stewart Silver, who bought the property in 2018. “We let people in that don’t have a lot of money, but we felt terrible about their situations. For me, everybody’s human.” 

The Borlands previously spent nine months parked near an overpass after constant relocating from county parks and rejections from other RV locales for having an RV considered “too old.” 

“How could we say no?” said park General Manager Serena French, who added other residents include disabled individuals, elderly couples and children of all ages who “have nowhere else to go.” 

The hope, Silver said, is that no one will have to leave as he is working toward compliance and applying for a new permit that will allow for just more than 100 RV spaces to stay permanently. 

Cali-Lake RV park managers Serena French (foreground), George and Michele Freeman work in the complex’s office. Residents fear that they may be forced from their home and community if State and County officials pursue action to deal with what they see as overcrowding in the park. September 19, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Vizcarra said Regional Planning had previously stated all violations must be cleared before in order to process a new permit but said Barger’s office is working with the department so that Silver could continue operating with the current number of RVs in place while filing for a new permit. 

“Displacement is not something the county wants to see,” he said.

“We’ve directed county agencies to work with the operator to make sure no one is displaced and so that they’re in full compliance,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Barger, whose district oversees the Santa Clarita Valley.

Silver is currently meeting with Regional Planning officials to reach those milestones for compliance and begin the new permit process, which could take anywhere between six to 12 months, said Vizcarra. 

Silver, who said he has invested more than $450,000 in improving the RV resort, added he has been issued other violation notices in the past, such as for having “a mountain on the property that had to be taken down. It took about 1,000 truckloads to take the mountain out.” 

Several Cali Lake residents, such as Paul Rockwell and George Freeman, said Silver has gone above and beyond in doing everything possible to stay in compliance and offer low-income families a place to stay. The average monthly rate is $825, which includes water, power, sewerage and free Wi-Fi. 

For now, the only question management is attempting to avoid is: Who will have to leave Cali Lake? 

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