Lessons in Resilience: Rolling Hill Estate Landslide

In 2023, the picturesque Rolling Hill Estate, located in California, experienced a devastating landslide that shook the community and raised concerns about the vulnerability of hilly regions to natural disasters. This blog post aims to shed light on the specific landslide event in Rolling Hill Estate, exploring its causes, impacts on the community and infrastructure, and the lessons learned from this tragic event.

Picturesque Rolling Hill Estate

Introduction to Rolling Hill Estate

Rolling Hill Estate is a gated community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California. The community is built on a steep hillside, which makes it prone to landslides. The area has a history of landslides, including a significant landslide in 1946 that destroyed hundreds of homes.

Landslide Event

On July 9, 2023, the landslide began on Peartree Lane, a steep street in Rolling Hill Estate. The landslide caused 12 homes to collapse and five more to be evacuated. The landslide also caused a sewer line to break, further complicating the situation.

Landslide Event

The landslide is still active, but it has slowed since it began. Officials believe that the recent rains in California triggered the landslide. The heavy rains have saturated the soil, making it more likely to slide.

The landslide affected a neighborhood of about 200 homes in the Portuguese Bend area of Rolling Hills Estates. The homes that were destroyed were located on a steep hillside that is prone to landslides. The landslide caused the homes to slide down the hill and into a canyon.

An article by the Los Angeles Times, “What you need to know about the Rolling Hills Estates landslide,” talks about the local state emergency declared in Rolling Estate Hills, damages in the location where the landslide occurred and many more.

Damages and Death in USA cause of LandSlide

Importance of Studying Landslides

The study of landslides is essential for future prevention and preparedness. By understanding the factors contributing to landslides, we can better design and build structures less likely to be damaged in a landslide event. We can also develop better warning systems and evacuation plans.

Importance of Studying Landslides

The Rolling Hill Estate landslide is a reminder of the dangers of living in areas prone to landslides. It is essential to be aware of the risks and to take steps to protect yourself and your property. If you live in a landslide-prone area, you should:

  • Know the risks. Learn about the history of landslides in your area and the factors that can trigger them.
  • Stay informed. Monitor weather forecasts and be aware of any warnings about heavy rains or other conditions that could increase the landslide risk.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Have a plan in place for how you will leave your home if a landslide warning is issued.
  • Secure your property. Make sure that your home and property are adequately anchored to the ground.
  • Stay informed about local regulations. Some communities have laws that restrict development in landslide-prone areas.

A survey by the United States Government on “Why Study LandSlides?” discusses the importance of studying landslides, Where and When they occur, and How big they will be? How fast and how far will landslides move?

Study for Preventive Measure %

Causes and Contributing Factors

Geological Characteristics

The Rolling Hill Estate area is on a steep hillside, making it prone to landslides. The soil in the area is also very sandy, which makes it less stable than other types of soil. Additionally, the site is located in a seismically active region, meaning earthquakes can contribute to landslides.

An article by National Geographic on “Geological Factors for LandSlides” where they talked about, What Geological Factors  Causes Landslides? Types of Landslides and many more things.

Human Activities

The construction of homes and other structures in the area has also contributed to the risk of landslides. The weight of these structures can stress the soil, making it more likely to slide. Additionally, altering the landscape, such as clearing vegetation, can make the area more prone to landslides.

A survey by the United States Government on “Do Human Activities Cause Landslides?” stated that certain human activities may trigger landslides.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Weather Conditions

The recent rains in California have also played a role in the landslide. The heavy rains have saturated the soil, making it more likely to slide. Additionally, the rains have caused the ground to become unstable, which has made it more likely to collapse.

An article by The Atlantic on “Climate Changes Hidden Impact On Landslides” talks about Extreme rain, rising sea levels, and frequent wildfires making landslides more likely.

Natural Triggers

In addition to the recent rains, several natural triggers can cause landslides. These triggers include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tsunamis.

It is important to note that the landslide in Rolling Hill Estate was likely caused by a combination of factors, including the geological characteristics of the area, human activities, and weather conditions. It is also important to note that landslides are natural hazards that can occur anywhere, but they are more likely to occur in areas prone to landslides.

Stats on Causes and Contributing Factors

Impacts on Community and Infrastructure:

Human Casualties, Injuries, and Displacement

The landslide has caused 12 homes to collapse and five more to be evacuated. There have been no reported casualties, but there have been some injuries. The residents of the affected homes have been displaced and are being provided with assistance by the Red Cross.

Damage to Residential Properties, Public Infrastructure, and Utilities

The landslide has caused extensive damage to residential properties, public infrastructure, and utilities. The 12 homes that collapsed have been destroyed. The five evacuated homes have also been damaged but are still habitable. The landslide has also damaged a sewer line, which has caused sewage to leak into the area.

Disruption of Transportation Systems and Access to Essential Services

The landslide has disrupted transportation systems and access to essential services. Peartree Lane, the street where the landslide occurred, has been closed to traffic. The landslide has also damaged a water main, which has caused a water outage in the area.

Stats on Impacts on Community and Infrastructure:

Role of a Custom Home Contractor 

Element Homes, a leading custom home contractor with expertise in resilience and disaster-resistant construction, can play a vital role in the recovery and rebuilding process after a landslide event. Their specialized knowledge and experience enable them to address the specific challenges posed by landslide-prone areas. Here are some key contributions Element Homes can make:

1. Geotechnical Assessment:

Element Homes conducts thorough geotechnical assessments to evaluate the stability of the land and soil conditions. They work closely with geotechnical engineers and surveyors to identify potential risks and develop appropriate mitigation measures.

2. Resilient Home Design and Construction:

Element Homes excels in designing and constructing resilient homes tailored to homeowners' needs. They employ innovative techniques and materials to enhance structural integrity, such as reinforced foundations, specialized retaining walls, and advanced slope stabilization methods. Their expertise ensures that homes can withstand the impact of landslides and protect occupants.

3. Collaboration with Experts:

Element Homes collaborates with engineers, architects, and other experts to ensure compliance with safety standards and codes specific to landslide-prone areas. This multidisciplinary approach guarantees that homes are built to the highest standards of resilience and durability.

4. Integration of Early Warning Systems:

Element Homes works with experts in early warning systems to integrate such systems into the design and construction of homes. This allows residents to receive timely alerts and take necessary actions in response to landslide warnings, enhancing their safety and preparedness.

5. Education and Awareness:

Element Homes places great emphasis on educating homeowners about landslide risks and measures to stay safe. They provide guidance on regular maintenance practices, signs to watch out for, and the importance of adhering to local regulations and guidelines. This knowledge empowers residents to make informed decisions and take proactive steps to mitigate risks.

6. Sustainable Home Designs:

While sustainable home designs cannot entirely prevent landslides, they can contribute to reducing the risks associated with landslides and improving the overall resilience of homes in landslide-prone areas. Here are a few ways in which sustainable home designs can help:

Sustainable Home Designs

Site Evaluation and Planning:

Sustainable home designs often involve thorough site evaluations to assess the geological conditions and potential landslide risks. By considering factors such as soil stability, slope gradients, and drainage patterns, designers can make informed decisions about the placement and orientation of homes to minimize exposure to landslide hazards.

Slope Stabilization Techniques:

Sustainable designs incorporate slope stabilization techniques to enhance the stability of the land surrounding the homes. These techniques may include retaining walls, terracing, and slope reinforcement measures, which help mitigate the potential for landslides and soil erosion.

Proper Drainage Systems:

Effective drainage systems are crucial in landslide-prone areas. Sustainable home designs incorporate well-designed and adequately maintained drainage systems that channel water away from slopes and foundations. By managing water runoff, these designs help reduce the saturation of soils, which is a common trigger for landslides.

Sustainable Building Materials:

Using sustainable building materials can indirectly reduce landslide risk. For instance, lightweight materials can minimize the additional load on slopes, reducing the potential for slope failure. Additionally, sustainable materials may have a lower environmental impact during production, reducing the overall disruption to the natural landscape.

Vegetation and Landscaping:

Sustainable home designs often emphasize integrating native vegetation and landscaping practices that promote soil stability. Planting trees, shrubs, and ground covers with deep root systems can help bind the soil together and reduce erosion, which in turn helps to mitigate landslide risks.

Sustainable home designs alone cannot prevent landslides. Comply with local regulations, monitor constantly, and educate the community to improve home resilience in landslide-prone areas.

Element Homes can help communities at risk of landslides with expertise in assessment, design, construction, warning systems, and education. Working with them can increase resilience, preparedness, and safety.

An article by Pile Buck Magazine on “Landslide Mitigation Techniques” where they talked about how applying different mitigation techniques and use of custom home contractor can prevent LandSlides 

- Recommendations

The following recommendations are made to help mitigate the impacts of future landslides in the Rolling Hill Estate area:

  • Develop a comprehensive landslide risk assessment for the site.
  • Implement measures to reduce the risk of landslides, such as planting vegetation and stabilizing slopes.
  • Develop emergency response plans for landslides.
  • Educate residents about the dangers of landslides and how to stay safe.

Emergency Response and Recovery Efforts:

Emergency Response and Recovery Efforts:

Immediate Response Actions

The Rolling Hills Estates Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department led the immediate response to the landslide. The first responders arrived on the scene within minutes of the landslide and began to evacuate the area. They also worked to stabilize the slope and prevent further damage.

Evacuation Protocols and Coordination with Affected Residents

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department coordinated the area's evacuation. The sheriff's department worked with the Red Cross to set up a temporary shelter for the displaced residents. The protection provided the residents with food, water, and other essential services.

Recovery and Reconstruction Initiatives

The city of Rolling Hills Estates is leading the recovery and reconstruction efforts. The city has created a task force to oversee the recovery efforts. The task force is working to assess the damage, develop a plan for reconstruction, and coordinate with FEMA and other agencies.

The recovery and reconstruction efforts are likely to take several years to complete. The city has estimated that the total cost of the recovery will be in the millions of dollars.

In an article by Habitat for Humanity on “Disaster Preparedness: LandSlides and Debris,” they talked about before, during and after landslides and what precautions an individual should take/do. 


The following recommendations are made to help improve the emergency response and recovery efforts for future landslides in the Rolling Hill Estate area:

  • Develop a comprehensive landslide risk assessment for the site.
  • Implement measures to reduce the risk of landslides, such as planting vegetation and stabilizing slopes.
  • Develop emergency response plans for landslides.
  • Educate residents about the dangers of landslides and how to stay safe.

Lessons Learned and Resilience Building:

Importance of Comprehensive Geotechnical Assessments and Risk Mapping in Landslide-Prone Areas

The Rolling Hill Estate landslide is a reminder of the importance of comprehensive geotechnical assessments and risk mapping in landslide-prone areas. These assessments can help to identify areas that are at high risk of landslides and can help to develop mitigation measures to reduce the risk.

Implementing Effective Land-Use Planning Regulations to Minimize Exposure to High-Risk Zones

Land-use planning regulations can minimize exposure to high-risk zones by restricting development in these areas. These regulations can also ensure that development in high-risk zones is done safely and sustainably.

Enhancing Early Warning Systems and Community Preparedness for Natural Disasters

Early warning systems can help to save lives by providing people with advance notice of a potential landslide. Community preparedness programs can help people know what to do in the event of a landslide and help ensure that they have the necessary supplies and resources to stay safe.

Collaboration Between Government Agencies, Researchers, and Residents to Foster Resilience

Collaboration between government agencies, researchers, and residents is essential to fostering landslide resilience. This collaboration can help to ensure that landslide risk assessments are accurate and up-to-date, that adequate mitigation measures are implemented, and that communities are prepared for natural disasters.

Lessons Learned and Resilience Building

In an article by the Frontiers on “Building Resilience to Chronic Landslide,” they talked about landslides disrupting livelihoods, causing loss of human lives and damage to property and infrastructure and how resilience building can help people stay safe. 


1. How many homes were affected by the landslide?

The landslide caused 12 homes to collapse and five more to be evacuated.

2. What were the causes of the landslide?

The causes of the landslide in Rolling Hill Estate were a combination of geological characteristics, human activities (such as construction and alterations to the landscape), and weather conditions (specifically, heavy rains that saturated the soil).

3. What role can Element Homes, a custom home contractor, play in landslide mitigation and recovery?

Element Homes, as a custom home contractor specializing in resilience and disaster-resistant construction, can contribute to the recovery and rebuilding process after a landslide event. They can provide geotechnical assessments, design and construct resilient homes, collaborate with experts, integrate early warning systems, educate residents, and incorporate sustainable home designs to mitigate landslide risks.


In conclusion, the Rolling Hill Estate landslide highlights the urgent need to address the vulnerabilities of hilly regions to landslides. By conducting thorough assessments of geological characteristics, human activities, and weather conditions, we can identify high-risk areas and develop effective mitigation strategies. This requires a collaborative effort involving government agencies, researchers, residents, and custom home contractors like Element Homes.

Average landslides occur in USA

Element Homes, with their expertise in geotechnical assessment, resilient home design, and construction, plays a crucial role in building resilience against landslides. Their contributions in developing disaster-resistant homes, integrating early warning systems, and educating residents about landslides contribute significantly to the overall safety and well-being of communities in landslide-prone areas.

Through the combined efforts of all stakeholders involved, we can strive towards creating more resilient communities, reducing the impact of landslides, and protecting lives and infrastructure. By implementing land-use planning regulations, enhancing early warning systems, and promoting community preparedness, we can make significant progress in minimizing the devastating effects of landslides. Together, we can build a future where communities are better equipped to withstand natural disasters and thrive in the face of adversity.

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