Debris being collected in a U-Haul truck on the Sylmar property housing more than 20 RVs. (SFVS Staff)

After last week’s court order instructing all residents of a makeshift RV park in Sylmar to clear the property by Sunday citing multiple safety hazards, dozens have packed up their things and moved out. With so many moving out, the question is where will they go?

During a pretrial hearing on July 19, Judge Alicia Y. Blanco issued an order to vacate the property with more than 20 RVs located in its backyard lot. The day before, a site inspection found multiple fire hazards and an illegal garage conversion that was deemed uninhabitable, resulting in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) cutting off power to the property. The order instructed all residents, including homeowner Cruz Florian Godoy, to leave by Sunday.

Although the deadline had passed, there were still some residents in the process of leaving the property and some who said they had no plans to leave, including Godoy. A generator has been set up on the property, now loudly churning 24 hours a day, supplying power to at least the main house.

After years of neighborhood complaints — multiple agencies, and both the city of LA and the 

City of San Fernando have recently become involved, but it remains unclear if there is one main source coordinating the efforts.

“I don’t believe there is someone in charge of coordinating,” said Kurt Cabrera-Miller, president of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. “I believe that CD [Council District] 7 is utilizing what services they can. I spoke to the [Los Angeles] county office and the county supervisor. I know that they have been doing the same thing, as well as the City of San Fernando and the mayor’s office. I think all of these offices are independently working on a solution.”

Cabrera-Miller is also the board chairperson of Community House Sylmar, which provides bridge housing — temporary housing while the individual gets connected with homeless services that will hopefully lead the person to permanent housing. 

He said that the organization is in the process of helping some residents but declined to say how many. Cabrera-Miller also said that since the power was cut, multiple agencies that work with the homeless have been trying to get the residents some form of housing.

“We have groups of agencies that all work collectively to combat homelessness,” he said. “When this happened [the cutting of the power], it had elevated the crisis because of the heat. It almost became like a humanitarian [crisis] of getting them ice water and getting them services. I think everybody kind of mobilized, as well as the city, county and state offices. I think they did the same thing.”

Cabrera-Miller said that he was told that Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez had opened an emergency shelter at the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center with around 20 cots available for tenants, but he doesn’t know how many are using the shelter or how long it will be available.

“Emergency shelters typically don’t last that long,” Cabrera-Miller said. “I have no communication [with Rodriguez’s office], so we don’t know how long that shelter is going to be open. We’re just thankful that it’s there. Every little thing helps. If you’re in a crisis, it definitely takes a village to come up with the solutions.”

Cabrera-Miller was present at the pretrial hearing. He previously told the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol that Godoy was released on her own recognizance on the condition that her property be completely vacated.

Godoy appeared in court Wednesday, July 26 and pled “no contest” in a complaint seeking her to clean up the property.  She was sentenced to 12 months probation under court-ordered conditions that she would bring her property into compliance with city codes, removing all RV’s and maintaining the property free of trash, debris and waste.  

Neighbors meanwhile are concerned that the property needs more than Godoy to “clean up,” the property and should require haz mat to conduct a biohazard cleanup as sewage has seeped into the ground and surrounding area for a long period of time.   

The City of San Fernando is also trying to help some residents on the property, which sits geographically on both San Fernando and the city of Los Angeles.

Kanika Kith, San Fernando deputy city manager, said she has been able to speak with one tenant on the San Fernando portion of the property, but has since had trouble contacting them again to connect them with homeless service resources. She said that San Fernando is willing to help more tenants, but it’s just a matter of who will pay the associated costs.

“We want to make sure that CD 7 is going to cover the cost if we’re going to locate a resident in the LA [portion of the property] for them because it’s going to cost us money to relocate the tenant to these temporary housing [sites],” Kith said. “We’re trying to work in collaboration here to try and help everyone. The goal is to help those living out there to be safe and to clean up the property.”

Kith said that, though San Fernando and LA are working together, there is no one person in charge that has been instructing both parties on what to do. For instance, Kith recalled that a department from the city of LA reached out to San Fernando to tell them of the upcoming July 18 site inspection; she could not remember which department had reached out, however.

Although not directly ordered to be there, it was an opportunity for both cities to inspect the property for health hazards after previous attempts to go inside had failed. San Fernando officials arrived, as did several LA departments, to inspect the property, finding and red tagging the illegal garage conversion on their side of the land. 

And this same cooperation extends to connecting tenants with homeless agencies.

“We are trying to work together with the city of LA on relocating residents, reaching out to all of our resources and sharing with each other whatever resources are out there to get temporary housing for the tenants.”