CALEXICO – 35 families in Calexico are looking for new homes as the city of Calexico and the owner of an RV park whose residents live in Solomon Oduyale battle over whether the park is allowed to operate.
In an interview on Thursday, April 6, City Mayor Raul Ureña and City Manager Esperanza Colio confirmed that on Tuesday, April 4, an inspection was made on Estrada Boulevard 304-314, which is the site of the RV Park in question. The inspection led to the condemnation of 32 lots and an additional 3 buildings, saying the property was ‘deficient and unfit for human occupation under Section 202 Chapter 10 under the Uniform Housing Code,’ a city official said.
Oduyale, however, said that this discrimination is due to both ethnicities, as he is the first from Nigeria, and the possibility of a retaliation complaint, which remained in April 2022.
“I tried to do my due diligence, and if I wanted the RV Park to be illegal, I never would have bought it,” Oduyale said.
Oduyale said the city confirmed the RV Park was acceptable when it bought the property seven years ago. He also claims the city has previously paid more than $10,000 to correct previous zoning issues.
Oduyale further testified that there was no sewage leak and if he found any sewage it was “syringe worth” and people walked from any roads, also saying that all electrical work was approved by the Imperial Irrigation District Inspectors.
Oduyale further said that any issues of insects – which he also claimed were non-existent but were dealt with anyway – were the result of unhygienic squatters for whom Oduyale said he was providing housing.
Colio described a very different brand in his interview, describing the site as unsafe, smelly, and a public health hazard, and told that repeated complaints had been made against the city by residents of Calexico both inside and outside the RV park.
Colio said there were exposed sewage pipes that carried sewage pipes, and improperly and illegally hooked electrical lines, all of which Colio said was filmed and available for public viewing.
Additionally, both properties are for individual homes only, with Colio saying the city does not have any permit or zoning changes related to the property, although he said he does not have any condemned homes.
Colio was far from alone in his walk, with Building Official Cuauhtémoc (Chuck) Cortez, Calexico Fire Chief Diego Favila, Calexico Fire Inspector Fernando Villa, Code Enforcement Department Officers Myra Soto and Mark Vasquez, Calexico Police Chief Jesus Serrano, Oduyale himself as his agent George Siddell, agent of goods and laborers, at Cortez to make the final condemnation.
Ureña and Colio also confirmed that the 35 families will not be completely left on their own, as the city is actively planning to provide family support services at the RV park.
According to an email from Araceli Lopez, Program Manager of the Imperial County Department of Social Services, on April 5, and from Cole on April 6, she stated that 18 families have been provided services by the following organizations: Calexico Neighborhood House, Imperial County Department of Social Services Homeless Hotline, and CalWORKs Housing Support Program.
This includes two families who moved out of the unit and received rapid services from Neighborhood House (RRH), one in the process of obtaining a unit with a tentative move in mid-April, assisted by the CalWORKS Housing Support Program, 13 families who are registered with Neighborhood House with RRH services and are looking for units, 16 families were told to apply to the Imperial Valley Housing Authority and are being provided with assistance in completing applications by the ICDSS Homeless Hotline, CalWORKs Housing Support Program and Neighborhood House.
Only 3 declined to enroll in any programs, according to the email.
“It is my duty to protect the citizens of Calexico… I could not live in these conditions,” said Colio.