City tears down beloved family tree

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) -- A family in Imperial Beach says the city cut down their family tree, and now they're hoping to find a piece of it.

Shari Austin says her grandmother planted a poinsettia tree 60 years ago under a bedroom window in an alley at Ebony Avenue and 2nd Street.

“It was awesome growing up here,” Austin said. "The monarch butterflies would come and feed there and the bees.”

She was shocked when she came outside Tuesday morning and it was gone.

“They took part of our family away," Austin said.

In a statement, the city said Street Division removed the tree Tuesday after they identified it as a hazard. The street supervisor attempted to contact Austin, but when no one answered the door, decided to proceed with the removal of the tree.

After learning the tree had sentimental value "The City offered to replace the tree with a new one (not at the same location)," the statement said. "Our Public Works crews even went into the dumpster this afternoon to try to retrieve a live branch to see if we could salvage the plant and attempt to resprout it from a clipping. Unfortunately, there were no salvageable pieces as the tree was decaying upon removal."

“We’ll never be able to replace a 60 year old tree," Austin said. "I don’t ever remember being alive and not having that little tree here.”

Now she is hoping someone took a clipping from the tree and will be willing to share it with them.

“Maybe they could give us a clipping of the clipping and we might be able to renew it,” Austin said.

She says crews cemented over the stump so they weren't able to recover anything.

"It had my grandmother’s spirit in it," Austin said. "She loved this town.”

Anyone who has a clipping of the poinsettia tree to give to the family can contact bree.steffen@10news.com. 

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