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Their neighbors lost everything in a massive landslide. Will winter rains cause more damage to this Southern California community?

Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Sepideh Razipour and her husband never thought they could afford to be homeowners, but when their Rolling Hills Estates rental went up for sale, they scrambled to make the townhouse their own, pulling together savings and borrowing from extended family.

But before they made their first mortgage payment, a massive landslide upended life on Peartree Lane, pulling eight neighbors' homes down a nearby canyon and pushing others into different levels of structural purgatory. Razipour's home survived unscathed, but the land movement damaged crucial sewer lines, which left her unit unlivable.

Now, almost five months later, utility repairs are stalled as officials worry about potential ground shifts, leaving Razipour's family of four stuck in temporary housing.

"What are the chances of buying a home and not being able to live in it after a week? It was just a week," Razipour said. "It's affecting every aspect of our lives."

She remains hopeful they can soon return, but concerns about a rainy winter and her street's long-term stability loom large — even as work to shore up the slope finally begins.

"I'm worried, but hopefully ... they'll do the winterization before the heavy rain starts," Razipour said. "It's been really hard."

 

The city of Rolling Hills Estates reported that last winter's excessive rains caused July's devastating landslide, although the findings were preliminary and at least two independent analyses are ongoing.

But residents worry that heavy rainfall could overwhelm the still unstable ground, threatening even more homes or creating new issues across the landslide-prone Palos Verdes Peninsula.

"A part of our hillside is missing, so who's to say during the rainy season if there's more instability," said David Zee, who also bought his house months before the slide.

Zee's house is one of four deemed structurally unsafe but not destroyed, although it now sits on the precipice of the failed slope. Eight other homes collapsed with the hillside, and five more — including Razipour's — remain yellow-tagged and vacant because of sewer damage.

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