Sylmar home with 20 RVs has children living in unsanitary conditions, neighbors say

Friday, July 7, 2023
Part 2: Home with 20 RVs has kids living in unsanitary conditions
The home with 20 RVs on its property in Sylmar has several children living in unsanitary conditions, neighbors say. And, a court date is scheduled for the homeowner later this month.

SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The property in Sylmar with roughly 20 recreational vehicles on site has had multiple RVs on its lot since at least December 2020. Images from Google Maps show the RVs consistently through the two and a half years.

On Thursday, the thought of leaving the lot without having a safe alternative keeps Jose, a tenant, up at night.

"I just come to sleep, to have a place to stay, but that's about it," said Jose. He says he goes to a relative's home often to use the restroom.

ABC7 first reported on the property and its often backed up sewage system on June 29.

Video shows what neighbors describe as sewage spilling into the streets, with a smell so strong that it has motivated 117 people to sign a petition to have it moved.

Still, Jose voluntarily lives at the RV camp. The property has involuntarily affected people who live in and around it.

A neighbor spoke with ABC7 anonymously, saying she sometimes can't go outside to eat or drink because the flies are all over. She says she's seen several children living in the RVs.

A source from inside the property told ABC7 five children live there total, including one with special needs.

No one outside of the property is surprised.

"I did see a kid back there," said Hector Rivera, a neighbor. "I have 16 grandkids and to me that's sort of child abuse."

Rivera saw officials from Los Angeles and San Fernando stop by the property on Monday.

"They were taking measurements, taking photographs," he said "Anything that (requires citations), they're going to follow up on it."

It's unclear if investigators stepped foot on the property when they were there Monday. Doing so would require consent from the homeowner, who ABC7 has repeatedly been told is out of town.

City officials from various agencies have told ABC7 that the fact that the RVs sit on private property adds a layer of complications.

ABC7 contacted L.A. City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez's office again ahead of Thursday's story, requesting an on-camera interview. Her office was unable to provide the interview, but did release this statement from the councilmember:

"I'm continuing to work with the City Attorney, LAPD, and the officials from the City of San Fernando to accelerate the clean up of the private property in question. At this time, I cannot comment further based on pending legal charges; I remain committed to deploying all efforts to address the impacts to the neighboring community."

The criminal case against the homeowner has a hearing scheduled for July 19.

Jose fears what could happen between now and then, or whenever he leaves here.

"I would end up in my car. I'd sleep on the streets in my car," he said. When asked what it would take to feel like he's going into a better scenario than this, he responded, "I don't know. It's been a stable place to stay."

ABC7 has heard from several people both inside that property and who live around it, saying they've felt threatened since bringing this issue to light.