Residents of RV park in Agua Dulce fear displacement as deadline for park owner to meet compliance looms closer
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District, is scheduled to introduce a motion Tuesday to initiate support for the residents of Cali Lake RV Resort, who fear being displaced from their community starting next year due to permit, health and safety issues.
“My heart goes out to the families and individuals at Cali Lake RV Park who, through no fault of their own, are facing the threat of being displaced,” Barger said in a statement to The Signal. “These families will not be left to fend for themselves.”
The motion, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, will direct every relevant county department and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to explore housing options as well as programs and services, including finding newer RVs for residents with older models who are interested in relocating nearby.
In addition, Barger’s motion would direct county staff to appeal to Gov. Gavin Newsom directly — asking for the state to work with the RV park’s owner to allow for an extended timeline while the county works to connect residents to resources, and additional state support to help Cali Lake residents.
“I’m committed to finding a path forward, including investigating the feasible and appropriate permitting options,” Barger said in the statement. “I won’t give up until we do.”
Stewart Silver, owner of Cali Lake RV Park in Agua Dulce, purchased the park in 2018 and renovated it throughout the following years. The park has become a safe haven for its approximately 98 residents.
However, tenants are fearing for their community as the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning and the California Department of Housing and Community Development asked Silver to reduce the number of RV spaces from 103 to the permitted 47 spots, citing health and environmental concerns.
In July 2018, the county was made aware of illegal grading and unpermitted improvements at Cali Lake, which had expanded capacity of its RV spaces. The park was also being used as permanent, long-term housing, rather than a transient, short-term use, according to the staff report.
The Department of Regional Planning issued a notice of violation to Silver for the unpermitted improvement and inappropriate use of the facility. In addition, the site is located in a significant ecological area, pursuant to the county’s Significant Ecological Area Ordinance.
In addition, Silver’s conditional use permit, which was approved in June 2000, had expired in June 2020. That permit only authorized a 47-space recreational vehicle park, with limits of an occupant’s stay to no more than 90 consecutive days, according to Department of Regional Planning officials.
Silver had previously mentioned he allowed new tenants to come in because many were homeless individuals or families with children who needed a place to recover and get back on their feet.
Residents of the RV park have similar stories — facing challenges whether financial, escaping from abusive relationships, or other difficult situations. And whereas other RV parks have credit checks, Silver does not implement that policy, which is one less barrier for people in possibly finding a home at his park.
Silver was notified of these problems in 2019 and 2020. County staff’s review of the submitted application revealed that he had not provided sufficient information to resolve these issues, according to Department of Regional Planning officials.
The county informed Silver from the beginning that the unpermitted spaces cannot be used permanently within the RV park. Enforcement action was suspended after Silver agreed to submit a report demonstrating his progress in vacating these spaces, according to the Department of Regional Planning.
In addition, Silver is in the process of resolving outstanding violations, issued by the Department of Housing and Community Development, according to the county staff report.
Officials with the Department of Housing and Community Development noted Silver would have to ask tenants to leave the park starting Jan. 1, 2023, to bring the number of spots down to 47 in order to be in compliance with the permit, which is in the process of being worked out.
The agency also confirmed part of its approval for any expansion of the number of spaces at the facility would rely on the approval by the local authority, in this case the county.
Silver previously mentioned he had addressed health and safety concerns multiple times.
He hired Stephen Layne, owner of A.V. Environmental Technologies, to complete an environmental report. Layne also created a plan to address concerns regarding the facility’s septic systems in the western portion of the park.
In previous conversations, Silver said he submitted the appropriate documents and worked with appropriate professionals to ensure his application was exactly what was needed for the county and state approval of a new conditional use permit.
According to all parties, they expressed a continued desire to work alongside one another to complete the permit process.
Barger’s office received numerous calls from concerned residents of Cali Lake who note the deadline to vacate the park nears closer. Residents also attended the last two county Board of Supervisors meetings to ask for help.
“There are many families currently living at Cali Lake,” according to Barger’s motion. “They have built a community at this location and fear displacement due to conditions outside of their control.”
At the RV park there are families and children who attend school nearby, and many are worried about relocating elsewhere. Many of these residents also live in older RV models, some in poor operating condition.
Some residents fear they would not be able to relocate due to an RV “10-year rule.” This rule is usually invoked by a local governing board decision or by an RV park owner, in an effort to prevent people from long-term camping at RV parks.
According to county officials, there is no “10-year rule” in the county’s zoning regulations. Nonetheless, residents fear they will be back on the streets somewhere in the Santa Clarita Valley or in nearby areas.
“As the county has a role to play as the land use authority for Cali Lake and is also the appropriate resource for any residents within Cali Lake who are seeking additional housing options, the county will be taking action to visit the site and to an assessment of the persons residing there,” Barger’s motion reads.
In response to Barger’s impending motion on Tuesday, Silver seemed hopeful for the community at Cali Lake RV Park.
“It’s exactly the direction I would love to see this going. It’s all about the people, and if we can somehow help these guys, we’re in great shape,” Silver said. “And I really do believe that.”