Calvary Cemetery plans to add 1,106 graves to its property on North Hope Avenue in Santa Barbara.
The project was presented to the city’s historic monuments commission last week. In addition to adding 1,106 burial spaces, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which owns the cemetery, wants to add a small cremation garden.
The burial spaces would take the form of 553 double-deep, pre-installed concrete lawn crypts, which would allow for two stacked burials.
Pollyanna LaLiberte, project coordinator for LaChaine & Associates, the architectural firm responsible for the project, told the meeting that double burial crypts are used in military and Catholic cemeteries in western states because burial sites are now limited. .
“We are becoming very limited in our burial sites, and these additional sites will also allow local families to have somewhere their loved ones can be buried, so they don’t have to travel out of the area,” she said.
Urban cemeteries have run out of space over the past two decades, forcing owners to consider creative ways to keep adding burial sites. Virginia’s famous Arlington National Cemetery could run out of space by 2041.
The new graves would primarily line North Hope Avenue, on undeveloped land. The project was submitted to the Historic Monuments Commission because the Stations of the Cross, the mausoleum and a cemetery sinkhole are on the property. The structures are part of the city’s historic resource inventory.
The sinkhole was discovered by workers and may be linked to the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.
“Some graves had been moved long ago when a retaining wall was built between the maintenance yard and the sinkhole,” LaLiberte said.
When completed, the appearance would be identical to the rest of the existing developed cemetery, although four new parking spaces would be added.
“No graves will be removed, nothing will be changed,” LaLiberte said.
The project was approved by a vote of 7-0.
Historic Landmarks Commission Chairman Anthony Grubine stepped down for discussion and voting because the company he works for, Harrison Design, has the Catholic Church as a client on a separate project.