Sylmar homeowner accused of illegally housing people in 20 RVs, dumping waste onto streets

Saturday, July 1, 2023
Part 1: Homeowner accused of illegally housing people in 20 RVs
On a residential street in the San Fernando Valley, one homeowner is accused illegally housing people in 20 RVs and dumping the waste onto the streets.

SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On a residential street in the San Fernando Valley, people living in dozens of homes have found themselves asking the same question lately: What is that smell?

It comes from a single plot of land off of Hubbard Street in Sylmar that has one house and roughly 20 homes. Recreational vehicles take up the lot and are occupied by renters, which affects people well beyond its fences.

Video obtained by Eyewitness News showed what neighbors say is human waste spilling into the streets and into the yards.

"My grandson cannot even go outside to play," said Maria, who lives near the lot. "I don't feel safe."

Another neighbor, Cyndi Lopez, described the smell.

"When they do the dumping, you can smell it in the neighborhood," she said, adding that it smells strongest at night. The two estimate the dumping happens roughly every other week.

For years, Cyndi and Maria each thought they were experiencing the smell alone. And then they started knocking, first on one neighbor's door, then another.

"No one said what are you talking about. They all said, 'Oh my goodness, yes,'" said Cyndi.

Their petition has collected 117 signatures from people saying they don't feel safe.

"I was crying," said Maria. "I couldn't sleep through the night for the noise. I don't know who's living there."

Two people living there agreed to speak with ABC7 in Spanish and without revealing their identities for fear their landlord will retaliate.

They each pay roughly $500 a month in rent, working odd jobs to get by.

"I work one day, and not work another," said the male tenant. "And I save up throughout the month."

When he falls short on cash, he tells ABC7 he pays his dues by clearing the backed up sewage line. Video shows a yard full of what he described as human waste.

Clearing the backed up sewage line.. describing everything in a video obtained by ABC7 as human waste.

"We've had fevers," said the female tenant.

The man added that if everyone living there got a health exam, they would all come out with some kind of contamination.

When Eyewitness News reporter Christiane Cordero approached the property to speak with its owner, Cruz Florian Godoy, two men approached.

One insisted the operation was legal with permits. ABC7 did a permit search and found none for the RVs, and no recent permits for this address.

The other person told ABC7 that Godoy was not available, suggesting to contact her attorney.

Godoy's attorney told ABC7 she and her client have no comment.

Godoy is charged with two misdemeanors in L.A. County Superior Court regarding the parking of RVs and the maintenance of trash and debris.

Officials in San Fernando are looking into other potential violations.

Where the neighborhood sits geographically further complicates the case. Most people who live around the property live in the city of San Fernando. The property itself is partially in San Fernando, but officials there say the RVs are entirely in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez declined ABC7's requests for an on-camera interview and instead sent a statement to say in part that her office initiated the inspections of the property, which resulted in violations and notices for compliance.

"I've been asking for help," said Maria. "San Fernando city, Los Angeles. It's been three years and I still don't have an answer to this situation."

Maria feels she's running out of options.

The tenants say, this whole time, they have had none.

"Because of necessity, nobody will say they live badly here," said the female tenant.

Godoy's next court appearance is scheduled for July. She has pleaded not guilty.