Residents react to devastating sinkhole

While others seemed to have been sure it was coming, many residents on Mt. Soledad had no idea that there was any geological problems on Mt. Soledad road. Residents sound off on whether the city did enough to prevent the sinkhole and is doing enough in the aftermath.

“I think everyone has this feeling that La Jollans are oober wealthy and something like this doesn’t affect them; but we own a small business here in La Jolla, La Jolla’s our home, this is community, and it’s greatly affecting us. We’re not able to work. Our girls are trying to go to school and still do soccer, and it’s really affecting our life, and our livelihood. And we don’t know when that’s going to change. We’re given 15 minutes with the police escort to get our things.

We aren’t being told face to face ‘this is what’s going on.’ Even if they say to us, ‘we don’t know, and we aren’t going to know for a month,’ that tells me ‘okay breathe, you’ve got a month’ but I’m getting more sad, and angry and frustrated.

“And our property values are shot. Being small business owners, it was a big investment. We put everything into that house, and we thought, if anything ever happened, we’d sell our house. That’s our investment, our retirement fund, or college fund. Money isn’t everything, but boy does this change your stress level.

“Never were we told there was a geological shift. If we had thought the ground would be shifting, there is no way that we would have kept our girls there.

“Two engineers were standing in front of my house and they didn’t say anything like ‘you’ve heard there might be some concern.’

“There was no information, and there’s still no information. You are hoping everything will be settled, that your hand will be held and they’ll take care of you.

  • Jennifer Spengler

A resident since 1965, Susie Heath said, “With my head going back and forth I could not believe they would rebuild on that area (where the slide occurred on 1961). When you get too much water, it just slides out. My neighbor and I were walking Tuesday night, and you could see big holes in the asphalt full of water. It was underground water. I think they (the city) should have drained the water off where it went down. We didn’t get any information (before the incident). Being here, we see they’ve been working on it for weeks, but I don’t think it helped.”
“They’ve been working on that thing forever. And no one said anything about earth moving, and these guys are up there, and it always seemed to be about water pressure. We had no clue.”

Michael Spengler

“I definitely think the city is at fault. There was a fire hydrant on the east side of the street that leaked for almost a week. After a week, the city had the fire hydrant removed and they put a new one on the west side of the street. That was two or three weeks ago. I walk up and down my street every day. I have seen all the activity, the cracking street, water seepage, sidewalk crack. I’ve been watching that for months now. I talked to a gentleman that lived on the block and said, ‘it’s just a matter of time.’ The house next door to him was going to go, he said, ‘I don’t sleep at night, if I lose my home, I lose everything.’ Another neighbor showed me the front gate of a house couldn’t close because the house was shifting, and there was a crack 2 ft up on the wall of another house. And they have been repairing the street for months. They do a little bit, put a Band-Aid patch; and in the last couple of weeks, they have really started getting to work.”

-Phyllis Hobbs

“I was looking at a newspaper. . . and I was telling my employees, ‘hey look this is where I live, look at this big crack.’ Next think I know. . .the whole landslide just happened. I didn’t know anything about it. We have three cats up there, who are still in the house. They’re our pets, we’ve had them for 16, 17 years. We had never heard anything. We have our health and a place to stay, so we’re good. It’s just the inconvenience of the whole thing. I wish we had known something better. We did our daily chores, our daily program, and then this happened and its like, now what?”

  • Robert Feliciano was at Kate Sessions park on the day of the event.

“About 18 years ago, Bud Ross’ Mt. Soledad home developed cracks from the dining room over to the family room. His home insurance informed him that it was a result of his home being built on fill, and that the house had settled as a result of water seeping through the foundation. His insurance covered over $150,000 to repair the damage over a 7 month period. “When it was built, there weren’t the same rules as there are now,” Ross sad. About the landslide, Ross said, “It scares us out. We lost electricity, we had no mail delivery. They’ve been working on it a month. We had no notice here. It’s still a nice place to live. As long as there’s no earthquake. Then we’ll fall into I-5. We don’t have earthquake insurance here because you get insurance, and two years later they cancel you. Then you go to a new company, and two years later they cancel too. You pay them all your money, then they cancel on you. We just never renewed again.”
-Bud Ross