Landslide devastates luxury homes in Southern California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula

A destructive landslide tore through luxury homes in Rolling Hills Estates on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California on Monday, July 10, 2023. The pace of the landslide, which began on Saturday, increased through the weekend and led to the evacuation of residents.

The peaceful tranquility of Southern California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula was shattered on Monday, July 10, 2023, as a landslide ripped through luxury homes, leaving a chaotic mix of collapsed roofs, shattered walls, and tilted chimneys. Decks were left hanging precariously over an adjacent canyon, a stark reminder of the power of nature.

The landslide began on Saturday, July 8 in the Los Angeles County city of Rolling Hills Estates. On Sunday afternoon, residents on Peartree Lane noticed the land shift, prompting authorities to red-tag twelve homes as unsafe. Residents were given a mere 20 minutes to evacuate.

Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who represents the area, described the situation as rapidly evolving. “It is moving quickly,” Hahn said. “You can actually hear the snap, crackle, and pop every minute when you’re there as each home is shifting, is moving.”

Initially, it was believed that all of the red-tagged homes were sliding. However, Assistant City Manager Alexa Davis clarified on Monday afternoon that only ten were actively moving. An additional 16 homes were being monitored but had not required evacuation, Davis said in an email.

“At the current moment, 12 homes are red-tagged, with 10 actively moving,” L.A. County Fire Department said. “An additional 16 are being monitored and have not required an evacuation. 16 residents have been displaced.”

While the exact cause of the landslide remains unknown, a fissure running among the homes raised suspicion that the past winter’s heavy rains may be involved, according to Hahn. “We won’t know until a geologist and a soil expert really does a post-op on this and tells us what happened,” Hahn said. “But because of that fissure, the initial thinking is that it was because of the heavy rains that we had last year and all that underground water has caused this. But we don’t know.”

The Palos Verdes Peninsula, which rises high above the Pacific on the county’s south coast and offers residents spectacular views of the ocean and greater Los Angeles, has a history of damaging landslides, most notably in 1956 and 2011.

References:

1 12 homes destroyed by landslide in Rolling Hills Estates likely to fall into canyon, official says – KTLA Los Angeles – July 10, 2023

2 Residents of a wealthy gated community in Southern California were given 20 minutes to evacuate after their neighborhood began sliding down a hill – Insider – July 10, 2023

Featured image credit: L.A. County Fire Department

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