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Rolling Hills Estates landslide ‘didn’t just happen in an instant,’ says Peartree Lane resident

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Randy and Rina Troy have visited 10 Peartree Lane each of the last six days.

To visit what they’ve lost.

They trudge up the hill, greet the sheriff’s deputy stationed at the corner, traverse a garden pathway and cross a small inlet street.

They are careful to stay on the stable-land side of the yellow caution tape.

On Friday, July 14, Randy, an avid sports fan, was decked out with a Rams shirt and Dodgers hat. Rina wore a sleeveless sundress.

It is a warm, sunny afternoon and the view was breathtaking. But only if you took in the horizon’s bright blue sky, green creviced hills and hint of the Pacific Ocean. Closer in, there’s only devasation.

Straight ahead is what’s left of the homes destroyed in the Saturday, July 8, landslide in Rolling Hills Estates. Nearly a dozen are all-but gone, having slid into the canyon below.

One of those is 10 Peartree Lane.

That was supposed to be the Troy family’s home forever. It was the first home they bought instead of rented, doing so 10 years ago for $700,000.

Now, there’s just a sloped driveway, leading to a red-tiled rooftop. Their three-bed, two-and-a-half bath oasis has collapsed upon itself. What’s left among the stucco, wood and concrete are memories and mementos.

“I’m numb,” Rina Troy said as she sat under her front yard tree, “and sometimes I get just really, really angry.”

  • Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree...

    Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy and Rina Troy view the remnants of their house...

    Randy and Rina Troy view the remnants of their house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy and Rina Troy view the remnants of their house...

    Randy and Rina Troy view the remnants of their house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree...

    Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree...

    Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy Troy stands in front of the remnants of his...

    Randy Troy stands in front of the remnants of his house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree...

    Randy Troy views the remnants of his house on Peartree Lane in Rolling Hills Estates, destroyed in a landslide a week ago, on Friday, July 14, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

The couple has been married 30 years. But their wedding album is at the bottom of the canyon.

Randy Troy is also angry, both about his and Rina’s losses — but also about how the landslide is being portrayed.

The landslide that leveled their life didn’t just happen in an instant, he said.

“This didn’t just happen on July 8,” Randy said.

Randy Troy, in fact, traces the origin back months. On April 28, Randy said, he and Rina began noticing tiny cracks in the walls of their master bedroom and bathroom.

“They were just little cracks,” Randy Troy said.

As April turned to May, he said, the cracking accelerated.

“Was that crack here?” he’d ask Rina. “Wow, I didn’t remember that crack.”

The cracking then quickened even more in the last week or two before the landslide, Randy said.

In early July, the second floor started separating from the first floor, he said.

Randy Troy said he alerted the Rolling Hills Park Villas Community Association, which hasn’t returned multiple requests for comment this week, about the cracking, but he declined to share details about that. He has hired an attorney, he said, but also declined to give the lawyer’s name.

On July 1, the Troys returned home from Torrance Memorial Medical Center, where Rina’s father is recovering from a stroke. Randy Troy said they were greeted by the “worst smell ever.”

“All of our gas lines popped,” Randy Troy said.

So he called a plumber, who came on Monday, July 3, and replaced the rigid-1970s era pipes with flexible ones. Randy has no idea what the replacement pipes cost him, he said. He has yet to get an invoice.

But the plumber did tell him he looked at the water pipes — they were copper — and even with the land movement that had occurred to that point, things would probably be all right.

“No one would have dreamed it would be this,” Randy said.

There was a water leak just few yards from his unit at the end of April, he said A sprinkler pipe was separated. But workers came in and fixed that. But, he said, with record rainfall the area had just a few months before, the ground was already saturated.

“We had water sheeting down our driveway,” Randy said.

The way the drains work, he said, rainwater is supposed to go down the slope and collect into a channel at the east side of his home. Two years ago, he said, the community association sent someone to make changes to his driveway that changed the flow of the water.

But for now, as Peartree Lane residents mark a week since evacuating their homes, the cause of the landslide is pure speculation.

The community association has hired a geologist, according to LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, and the firm is scheduled to be on site on Monday, July 17.

Until geologists do their digging to determine what happened, though, residents like Randy and Rina Troy just have to wait and visit their mementos.

There’s no telling, Randy, said if they’ll be able to go anywhere near the rubble to retrieve anything.

But he has more to say about the humanity he’s seen during the last week. He credited Hahn, who made firefighters fetch the flag that always flies on his home and put it in a front yard tree. City officials such as Mayor Britt Huff and Assistant City Manager Alexa Davis have been absolute gems, he said.

Randy choked with emotion.

“I’m going to start crying again,” he said.

The story he really wants to tell is about a stranger. The tears flow as he tells it.

He and Rina are staying at a nearby Marriott Residence Inn. The general manager there, a man named Ed Apodaca, shares Randy’s love of all things sports.

He left Marcus Allen and Vin Scully bobbleheads for the Troys in their room.

“I saw that and I was just crying,” Randy said. “That someone could be that caring and really understand.”

While Randy told that story, Rina sat under a tree taking in the rubble, trying to make sense of it all.

“I mean look at this,” she said. “It’s a mess.”

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