Saturday marked the first time gates at the historic Frederick Law Olmsted designed property have been open to the public since March of 2020 when the pandemic hit. Mountain View’s notices at first cited COVID-19 restrictions for the reason, but as time dragged on and neighbors and fans of the grounds grew frustrated while other parks reopened, cemetery signage and website information obliquely referred to an unresolved conflict with the city as the reason for keeping the public out.
More recent verbiage on their website cites the burden and mess of visitors and the expense of maintaining the grounds. A message on their website now reads:
Before this pandemic MVC and the plot owners had a long history of welcoming the public to enjoy the park-like space. Since MVC was closed because of Covid, two things occurred:
1. Plot owners appreciated what it is like to have the cemetery be solely open to them and their families – it is quiet, serene, and respectful. They complained of the Cemetery’s prior overuse for public recreation.
2. The Cemetery has and continues to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars responding to City complaints that it repaired an unstable hillside to prevent a landslide.
Now, at long last, with lots of detail to explain their stance, Mountain View is piloting a partial reopening — two days a week (compared with their decades long practice of 7 days/week). And unlike the the gates-wide-open of yore, visitors were greeted by a guard who asked for signatures to petition Oakland city planning and Mayor Libby Schaaf to “help resolve the City’s actions against the Cemetery’s repair and landslide prevention of Hill 500.”
There was little evidence of raucous crowds recreating on Saturday, May 8, but the handful of strollers, dog walkers, and happy visitors were grateful to be able to wander the grounds once again.