NEVADA CITY (CBS13) — Pacific Gas and Electric and the Nevada City community have butted heads for the last two years after the utility company cut down hundreds of trees which prevented small businesses from operating.

In an effort to protect the area from wildfires, PG&E is working to underground some of their power lines. But despite the good intentions, small businesses and community members are frustrated with what they say is poor planning and slow progress.

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Brandon Jonutz, known as Tarzan, and his tenacious group of tree-sitters went up against the biggest California utility company and won. He slept in a Nevada City tree for weeks after PG&E slated 300 of them for removal.

“Don’t come in like a steam roller, because we’re going to keep doing this,” he said during his protest back in November 2020.

Tarzan demanded the company trim trees away from power lines instead. PG&E eventually agreed and Tarzan celebrated by climbing down to a proposal from his now-wife Tess Athena.

“That was really beautiful,” said Athena, who is also an environmental activist. “It brought us more of a fairytale magic to our relationship but it does put a stain in our heart.”

Tarzan and his then-fiancée back in November 2020.

PG&E did ultimately cut down some trees deemed dangerous. but it turns out it could have been for nothing as the powerlines causing problems are now being moved underground.

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“These are trees that are 150 years old, and we just cut them down like it was nothing,” Athena said.

PG&E said the project had been discussed for years, but at the time the trees were removed, Nevada City had not yet raised funds to begin undergrounding the lines.

“Residents here at Broad Street in their business got affected,” Athena said. “A lot of people, houses, residents are upset about this and it’s all for nothing and it’s upsetting.”

Local business owners say more than a year and a half of PG&E in Nevada City has caused their business to be put on hold.

“It cost us a lot of business income,” said Nevada City resident and business owner Julie Carrara.

Julie and Ron Carrara own Broad Street Inn where PG&E has been doing construction since the fall of 2020.

“People couldn’t stay here. There were a few times the trees were going to be cut and PG&E told us and we’d cancel our guests,” Julie Carrara said. “When they close you down, that’s huge for us.”

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The Carraras said this project is supposed to be completed by this summer, and they’re concerned about their future if it’s not.