The LA Weekly has a long, gruesome feature about a dispute between neighbors in the affluent area of Pacific Palisades. It all starts when a young family moved into an expensive little bungalow and discovered that the elderly twin ladies next door were animal hoarders who'd raised tens of thousands of rats. Then it gets interesting, as it transpires that pretty much everyone — the realtor, the town, the former owner — all knew about the rats and had not bothered to mention it to the new owners.
When he crept closer, the odor – "a urine stench" – was "unbearable." By the end of their first long weekend in the Palisades, Liz was stressed out, peering at shadows. The more she peered, the more rats she saw. Standing in her own master bedroom, she found herself at eye level with a group of rats who clearly had a routine, slipping methodically in and out of drains and cracks on her neighbors' outside wall.
She saw three rats squeeze out of a roof drain in a precision, shoulder-to-shoulder group, Ratatouille-style. Another rat pack traveled along the dusty, reeking hedge on the property line. The hedge was a rat highway, and it swayed under its commuters' weight.
Liz knocked on her neighbors' rotting front door, but no one answered. They soon learned from other neighbors that the owners were 78-year-old twins Margaret and Marjorie Barthel, who rarely left the house – and never at the same time. When one of them did go out (and many people could not tell them apart), she wore heavy clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and large glasses as she pushed a shopping basket from Ralphs. It was always filled with large bags – of dog food. They haven't owned dogs for years.