While he was in the Assembly in 2012, Charles Calderon pushed for several bills that would have made it easier for mobile home park owners to collect more rent. Many Malibu residents opposed AB 317 last year as it affected many of the individual unit owners in the two local mobile home parks.
It has now become known that at the same time Calderon pushed his bill, his son Ian Calderon, who is now a Democratic Assemblyman representing the Whittier area, worked as a consultant for longtime family friends with relatives who operated mobile home parks.
A year later and due to investigative reporting by reporter Ben Baeder, we have learned that last Friday, Charles Calderon’s brothers, state Sen. Ron Calderon and former State Assemblyman Tom Calderon, were named as defendants in a multi-count federal corruption case that alleged the brothers used their positions in power to take bribes, launder money and peddle influence. Both men have entered not guilty pleas.
According to a news story by Baeder, “While their older brother Charles and his son Ian haven’t been charged or implicated in a crime, the setup enjoyed by Ian, who worked at a recycling firm with ties to several mobile home parks, very nearly echoes a key charge in the federal case against his uncle Ron Calderon.”
Despite the allegations involving his brothers, Charles is running for one of several open seats on the Los Angeles Superior Court. If he wins, the eldest Calderon could be assigned to the county bench as a judge. He has held a variety of offices in and around the state since 1988.
He denied any wrongdoing. Ian Calderon did not return a call from Baeder seeking comment for this story.
One long-time affordable housing advocate said Charles Calderon for years pushed legislation that would benefit the owners of mobile home parks.
“This totally doesn’t surprise me that his son worked for a mobile home park owner,” said Larry Gross, director of Los Angeles-based Coalition for Economic Survival, an agency that pushes for tenants’ rights and an increase in affordable housing. “Calderon (was) always the go-to guy for mobile home park owners. They saw him as their ticket to weakening laws that protect tenants.”
The Coalition was one of several groups that opposed Assembly Bill 761, a failed bill introduced in 2009 that would have made it easier for a park owner to charge more rent when a rent-controlled unit changed hands.
As a long-time Malibu Realtor, I fought this bill last year as it alarmed several of my clients, who own units in the two local mobile home parks. Many in Malibu mobilized to oppose this bill, even the members of the Malibu City Council opposed AB 317 and worked for the changes in the text.
I am now surprised to hear that Calderon, who authored this bill and others was close with the owners of some of these mobile home parks.
It was while Ian Calderon worked at Sunset Fibre that his father pushed legislation that would have relaxed rent control for mobile home park owners.
Sunset Fibre is operated by Art Kazarian, according to state records. Art Kazarian is also listed as the chief executive officer of e-Recycling of California. Dennis Kazarian is listed as the chief green officer.
Dennis Kazarian is also the president of the Santiago Sunrise Village, a mobile home community in Palm Springs, along with at least nine other mobile home parks, according to corporate records filed with the IRS. The parks are operated as not-for-profit companies that partner with communities to provide homes for low-to-moderate income residents.
Dennis Kazarian was also Charles Calderon’s chief of staff in the State Senate from 1990 to 1998.
“There are mobile home parks that are being taken up by wealthy people who pay the same amount as low and moderate income families,” Charles Calderon said.
In an interview on Monday, Charles Calderon said he could not name any instances or locations where wealthy owners were taking up units that should have gone to low-income renters. He said his bills simply cleaned up odd parts of renters’ law that were specific to mobile home parks.
He said he did not know what his son did for Sunset Fibre.
The rent control elimination bill was eventually gutted, and Calderon settled for a 2012 version which notified renters that they had to live in the home as a primary residence in order to qualify for rent control.
Baeder reached out to Ian Calderon for this story and he did not return a call to his office in Sacramento.
Kazarian was not available at the number listed for the mobile home park or the recycling company. He did not return a call left at a number listed for his home, according to Baeder.