Share this article!

It’s 9 a.m. on an April Sunday, and Eric Smith is drinking tea, looking out over the city of Los Angeles from the balcony of his two-level, midcentury modern in a tree-filled, mountainous neighborhood called Hollywoodland—just a few hundred feet below the iconic Hollywood sign. The only moving object on the street is a coyote, skulking around the corner.

But he knows the peace won’t last.