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Stockton Woman Says City-Owned Trees Keeping Her from Having Electricity Restored

STOCKTON -- A frustrated homeowner in Stockton has been living without power for three weeks and the only thing blocking her from getting her home back in order, she claims, are city-owned trees.

A pistache tree on West Park Street in Stockton is just a plant, but for homeowner Paula Antonio, the tree is the root of her anguish.

“This is my home and you can’t come home, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t do anything,” she said.

Antonio explains that she and the 8-year-old niece she has custody of have been living without power for three weeks. While she’s been sleeping over at friends' homes, she wants her power back.

How did it happen? She said a branch from a tree across the street fell on top of a power line that was connected to the now precariously hanging electrical panel on her home.

“I called the city, and the city just says 'you know you gotta just take care of it, it’s your problem,'" Antonio said.

She said before her electrician can fix the mess, the space around her home needs to be cleared. The tree in front of her home and the one across the street will need to be trimmed. According to a city website, both are city owned.

Antonio said for weeks she has been pleading with city officials for any kind of answer. Instead, she told us, she got a warning.

She shared with us a violation notice, a warning for her to fix the electrical panel or face a fine of up to $500.

“The only thing holding this whole thing up so Paula can get power back into her house is the city,” said Bridgette Oliver-Markel, Antonio’s friend.

Oliver-Markel said Antonio has been trying to fix her home but city officials have not returned her calls or messages.

Antonio also received another notice. A note written by a city worker stating that “the city will not trim the trees.” With no clearing, Antonio cannot get her panel fixed, which leaves her and her niece at a dead-end.

“Maybe I should just cut the damn tree down myself. And they’re [like], 'oh you can’t cut the tree down, you need a permit,'” she said.

A city official said off camera that Antonio can file a claim at city hall, which will determine who is responsible for maintaining the tree, but in the meantime, she will have to address the violation.

We also spoke to city representative Christina Fugazi over the phone who said she is planning on bringing up the issue at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“We have to do better by our residents, the answer cannot be ‘it’s not our responsibility,’” she said.