The power was restored Tuesday at an RV park south of Desert Hot Springs.
Residents living at The View Recreational RV Park said they woke up in a cold sweat, shocked to learn that their landlord shut off power and the water around 6:30 a.m.
Residents claim that they paid their rent, which includes electric and water.
The power was eventually turned back on at around 2:45 p.m., But only after the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department forced the manager to turn it back on.
“It’s like a tin box out in the middle of the desert,” said Dan Hodgson, a resident without power.
Kim Petit, who has lived at the park for one month, said management “didn’t tell us nothing.”
“[RV’s] heat up quick, and for us that have kids, pets and animals, it was quite an ordeal,” said Hodgson.
The Sheriff’s Department showed up at around 2 p.m.
The manager, Steve Pendergast, confirmed that the Sheriff’s Department was prepared to place him under arrest if he refused to turn it on.
“We’re not squatters,” said Hodgson. “We paid our rent. So as far as we all know, we all have the right to be here.”
“How can you be a squatter in a gated community when you have the gate code?” asked Doug Ammeter, who has lived in the RV park since February.
Ammeter has receipts, and carbon copies of checks proving that he’s paid his rent.
But, he never signed a lease to live at the RV park, “but there is one gentleman who did sign a lease,” he said.
Pendergast is also the general manager of Catalina Spa down the road.
He wouldn’t speak with News Channel 3 on-camera, but he did talk behind close doors.
He claims to be a consultant hired to by the company who owned the property.
There were plans to develop the lot, but the property fell into foreclosure in 2008, Pendergast said.
The new ownership asked him to turn the power off because the electric bill was past due, Pendergast explained.
He also called the people living here squatters, and that the park was never intended for long-term living.
“I feel like that’s defamation of character,” said Ammeter. “I have receipts and if he calls me that and he wants to come over here, I definitely will squat on him.”
Mike Umstot is the assisant manager of the property and is currently in a disagreement with Pendergast, he said.
“I don’t want to get mixed up with all his lies,” said Umstot.
It’s unclear how the rent money was spent, and why the bills haven’t been paid.
The bottom line is that soon the park will close, said Umstot.
“We’re all going to get a formal notice of 30 days that we have to vacate the premises,” he said.
Southern California Edison provides power to the area.
An SCE representative said they are working with the owners on ways to keep the power on, and will not turn the power off in the near future.