Article was updated on May 4 with a correction per note below.
Management at Oakland’s famed Mountain View Cemetery on Friday announced plans to reopen the park-like grounds to the public for recreational uses starting May 8, albeit with a few conditions.
The cemetery has been closed for more than a year due to COVID-19 and “other operational reasons,” according to a statement on the cemetery’s website. For years prior to its closure, people flocked to the privately-owned cemetery’s bucolic grounds to stroll amongst the stately mausoleums, take in the stunning views, walk their dogs and cycle along the winding paths.
Access to be limited to two days per week
Starting May 8, people will once again be able to enjoy these activities, but only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays and on one as-yet-to-be-determined weekday, according to Rena Rickles, a lawyer representing the cemetery’s board of directors.
“The community wants and needs a park-like space and the cemetery gets that and we empathize. We’re willing to step in and see if this works again.”Rena Rickles, a lawyer representing the cemetery’s board of directors
In addition to the limited hours, the cemetery will also require all dogs to be on leash and dog owners will need to provide their own poop bags and stay on paved roads and paths, off of cemetery plots and out of indoors areas, Rickles said. The cemetery will impose a two-dog limit on visitors and will also deny entry to professional dog walkers, she said.
In addition, people can only enter through the main gate and picnicking is now prohibited, as is “non-authorized alcohol,” and visitors may only bring water onto the grounds.
“Our hope is that since (people) haven’t had it for a year and they are getting access on a conditional basis, that they come in with respect and don’t leave piles of trash and other things,” Rickles said. By reopening with these conditions, the cemetery hopes to balance the needs of the public with those for whom have loved ones buried at Mountain View Cemetery, she said.
Management is also thinking about requiring visitors to sign in at the main gate.
The two-day-a-week “pilot program” is subject to change based on how well the public can adapt to the new rules, Rickles said.
Mountain View General Manager and CEO Jeff Lindeman, in a statement posted on the cemetery website last December, said part of the reason for the closure is that the city of Oakland and complaints from neighbors “cost the cemetery millions of dollars in project delays, construction disruption, attorney’s fees and costs,” among other things. He also said it costs “well into six figures every year” to keep the grounds open for the public to enjoy.
The 226-acre cemetery was designed in 1863 by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park (1857), the U.S. Capitol grounds (1874), Stanford University (1886) and the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).
Note: An April 20 edition of this article erroneously stated Olmsted designed Golden Gate Park. He did not; it was designed by William Hammond Hall.