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AN UPDATE FROM THE CEMETERY

12.19.2020

Introduction

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the Shelter in Place Orders issued last March, the Cemetery closed its grounds to recreational activities. The SF Chronicle recently published a story advocating for Mountain View Cemetery to reopen its grounds to recreational activities. Historically, the Cemetery has been reluctant to engage in public debate. It is our preference to provide a place of peacefulness.  However, the growth of social media and the shift of traditional news toward advocacy as news is causing the Cemetery to reconsider how it communicates.

Cemetery Closed For Recreation

Mountain View is not the only cemetery closed to the public for recreational purposes. Many cemeteries have never allowed recreational activities. The Chronicle article claims that the original designer of the Cemetery, Olmsted, designed it to mirror the park-like cemeteries of the east coast. Olmsted did not. Olmsted wrote, “Neither a garden nor a park, but a city of the dead.” From A Clearing in the Distance by Witold Rybczynski.

Obstacles Preventing Re-Opening

The Cemetery has always enjoyed a good relationship with its surrounding community and keeping it open to the public has been a part of that. To do that, the Cemetery has historically spent well into six figures every year to support recreation at the Cemetery. Unfortunately, opening up the Cemetery involves addressing a host of unpleasant and expensive issues: trash left behind, dogs off leash or on plots, dogs biting other dogs or visitors, neighbors cutting fences to gain convenient access, trespassing, graffiti, drug and alcohol use, nudity, speeding and fighting, to name a few. In addition, over the last two decades, threats and complaints from a handful of neighbors, influential with the City building and planning departments, have cost the Cemetery millions of dollars in project delays, construction disruption, attorney’s fees and costs, citations, consultants and foregone revenue.

In 2018 the Cemetery made emergency repairs to its “Hill 500” to prevent what had the potential to be a calamitous landslide threatening loss of life and extensive damage to graves and property. Neighbors complained and the City, without further inquiry, fined the Cemetery and attempted to prevent completion of the repairs.

The City is now demanding that we undo all the repairs and put back all the dirt to its former state. This makes no sense. Making the neighborhood and plot owners go through another year of heavy machinery noise and disruption, making plot holders and their families pay for it, and returning the hill to its former dangerous condition is pointless and provides no benefit to anyone. Yet, the costs to the Cemetery to appeal are staggering.

The cemetery does not have unlimited resources and has an absolute duty to protect the sanctity of its plot holders and families, and, like every business, must be allowed to develop to sustain its services to the community.  Simply put, the Cemetery cannot afford the combined costs of keeping the Cemetery open to recreational activities in a manner that protects the sanctity of plot holders and family, while at the same time fighting the draconian measures the City imposes on the Cemetery.

How Can You Help?

We appreciate your patience and ask for your support. What can you do?  Please call Mayor Schaaf’s office. We believe Mayor Schaaf cares about the Cemetery and, like many of you, is concerned about the Cemetery’s closure to recreational activities. Please ask her to resolve the City’s actions against the Cemetery’s repair and landslide prevention of Hill 500 in a way that is most beneficial to the community, plot holders and their families, our neighbors, and the City as a whole.  If the City can stop its senseless enforcement actions against the Cemetery, we will have the resources to re-open, at least partially, to the community for recreational activities.  If you are interested in helping, please email our office at info@mountainviewcemetery.org with your ideas and suggestions.   We will do our utmost to get back to you within two business days.

And thank you for taking the time to read this and being part of our community.

Cemetery and Funeral Arrangements, Information and Visits

The Cemetery is open for cemetery and funeral information, planning, arrangements and services. If you need to make arrangements, please call us and/or email us at info@mountainviewcemetery.org. We will be pleased to assist you. The Cemetery is open to plot owners and to families who wish to visit their loved ones. Typically, visits last about a half hour to an hour and visitors drive to their destination. If you need more time or other assistance, please let us know and we will try to accommodate you, assuming there is no scheduling conflict with another service or group. We ask that you observe safe COVID-19 practices.

 

PIEDMONT FUNERAL SERVICES AND MOUNTAIN VIEW CEMETERY

Mountain View Cemetery Association in Oakland, California, a historic Olmsted-designed cemetery located in the foothills of Oakland and Piedmont, is pleased to announce the opening of Piedmont Funeral Services. We now provide all funeral, cremation and celebratory services for families and the community at our 223-acre historic location. CA FD #2210

 

At this time the Cemetery is closed for recreational activities.  The Cemetery is open for making cemetery and funeral arrangements and is open to plot owners and visitors who have families and friends that are interred at the Cemetery.  Please practice social distancing and stay safe!

If you need to make cemetery or funerary arrangements, please call our office and we will be pleased to assist you: 510-658-2588.

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