By Allison Hoffman THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN DIEGO – Jeanne Plante didn’t pay much attention this summer as city engineers worked to figure out why the busy road up the hill from her house was ominously cracking. Then the ground below the road suddenly collapsed last week, taking four houses with it and burying two others. Now, she and her neighbors want to know why it took so long for the city to recognize that a major landslide risk was imminent. The area where the collapse occurred, Mount Soledad, is an upper-middle-class residential neighborhood that boasts views of mountains to the east and a short commute to the surf spots and tony restaurants of downtown La Jolla. Residents who live near the slide zone criticized the city for not warning that a slide was possible after concerns about water main leaks, sinking curbside meters and creeping gaps in the sidewalk first cropped up in July. “We are helpless,” said Joseph Tsai, a retired engineer who moved to Mount Soledad 12 years ago. “It depends on the city to address the problems.” City officials have said they were considering new vehicle weight limits and other stopgap measures early in the week but didn’t realize a collapse was imminent until shortly before it happened. Residents of the four houses directly atop the collapse were advised late Tuesday not to sleep in their houses; homeowners whose properties were buried said they had no notice. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas City“If it happened to them, what’s to stop it from happening to us?” she said shortly after she was allowed to return to the $1.7 million gray-stone property, which sits about a hundred feet downslope from the toe of Wednesday’s landslide. City geologists say the collapse has apparently stabilized now that the stress has been relieved on the weak earth, which caved beneath a 50-yard stretch of road. But answers explaining why the collapse happened are harder to find. Four houses sank into the 20-foot-deep fissure, while tons of dirt carrying fully grown pines and eucalyptus shoved a wall of road asphalt and broken curb into two houses on the street below. Seven houses were so severely damaged that residents can’t even get inside, and 22 more are off-limits except with safety escorts. City officials estimate the damage could be $48 million – $26 million for broken sewer and water mains, and $22 million for private property losses.