Mayor halts removal of 91-year-old widow’s tree

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer halted the removal of a tree Monday after a 91-year-old widow fought to save it from being cut down by city workers

“We’re a big city but we’re also a city of families and neighborhoods and we work together to solve problems. And to take another look at things to say how do we keep not only this great tree here, but how do we make sure it’s safe and we’re going to be doing that, and I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve that objective,” said Mayor Faulconer.

Marie Ostwald asked the city of San Diego to save a Brazilian pepper tree she and her late husband planted 57 years ago.

"It’s like losing my husband all over again, it’s got such sentimental value,” said Ostwald. "I’m not going to chain myself to the tree.”

Ostwald's husband passed away in 2005. The tree serves as one of her last living memories of him.

“I am happy, I am very happy…I want this tree to stay. I love it, I’ve grown up with it… I want to stay with it,“

Several neighbors stepped in to help the widow save her tree. Anthony Wagner has lived next to the family for 10 years.

“I never got a chance to meet Whitey, her husband, but she speaks about him daily and she’s always looking at this tree talking about Whitey, so it’s nice to get to know the family through the tree," said Neighbor Anthony Wagner.

The city has eyed the tree's removal ever since Ostwald called to ask for help with the surrounding sidewalk. Crews say the Brazilian pepper tree's roots serve as a potential hazard to pedestrians and those in wheelchairs.

“I won’t have to chain myself to the tree now. Thanks to the Mayor," said Ostwald.

"No, we’re not going to have her do that! No!" Said Mayor Faulconer.

The tree and home are located at the corner of Greenbrier Avenue and Mission Gorge Road.

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