Cali Lakes reaches occupancy limit; challenges remain 

Some of the motorhomes in question at Cali Lake RV Resort in Santa Clarita on Thursday, 092222. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The L.A. County staff reported to the Board of Supervisors that Cali Lake RV Resort is now one vehicle under its required occupancy limit, ending a monthslong struggle with the park’s owner who contended he had permission and was doing a service, keeping the residents safer than they would be on the streets. 

While county officials acknowledged their difficulty in finding or creating safe alternatives for these residents — which was part of the motion authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District including the Santa Clarita Valley, to address the situation — the safety concerns were too severe to permit the additional residents.  

Cali Lake, in a bit of a remote location east of Santa Clarita city limits and south of Agua Dulce, is part of what’s considered a very high severity fire hazard area. 

The situation began when, according to the state’s Department of Community Development and Housing, the park’s owner received a permit that upped his park’s capacity from 47 to 103 — conditional on local (county) approval, according to a previous email from Jennifer Hanson of the state’s HCD. 

The county wasn’t able to grant the approval for increased occupancy because of the fire danger, but the owner, Stewart Silver, had already moved in residents, leading to a monthslong effort by Silver to secure their stay. He reasoned that the residents were still safer in his park than parking on the street. 

While the state said it had no power to evict residents, Silver was informed he had to meet the deadline or make “confirmed, good faith efforts to correct the violations” — meaning reduce occupancy — or run the risk of onerous fines and the loss of his ability to charge rent. 

The streets are ultimately where many of them ended up moving to, according to Cali Lake office manager Michele Savino, who helped manage the effort to relocate the residents. She recognized a number of the park’s former tenants parked on Roxford Street in Sylmar during a drive down to the San Fernando Valley earlier this month, she said.  

During county officials’ report, the relocation challenges were echoed by the social workers who helped the park’s residents relocate. 

“We have been challenged with identifying safe parking locations for RVs,” said Cheri Todoroff, executive director of L.A. County’s Homeless Initiative, speaking about some of the challenges that have impacted “the rollout of the pilot program,” according to a news release from the county CEO.  

The outreach and availability of programs helped more than 140 residents, according to a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority during Tuesday’s meeting. But there are still practical obstacles to overcome.  

“We’re talking to partners, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and real estate partners. It’s complicated to find parcels of land big enough to accommodate RVs and that can also support all the infrastructure elements that are needed to make the space functional for living.”  

Barger affirmed her commitment to helping the residents in a statement Tuesday after hearing about some of the issues county staff encountered while trying to help the park’s residents, which included everything from severe health challenges to limited access to communication from a lack of cellphone and WiFi service.  

Va Lecia Adams Kellum, CEO of LAHSA, affirmed the agency’s outreach workers would continue visiting Cali Lake RV Resort up to twice a week as long as any on-site residents need services.  

“I heard directly from residents from Cali Lake RV Resort during our board meeting last November,” said Barger in a news release Tuesday. “The stories they shared really struck me. These families and individuals suddenly found themselves facing housing uncertainty through no fault of their own. My office will continue to work alongside all our partners to support those who remain or left Cali Lake RV Resort. We owe it to them.” 

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