LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — A Long Beach cemetery has announced plans to shut its gates if a deal cannot be reached with the city to purchase the property, leaving families with questions about the future of their deceased loved ones.
About 16,000 people have been buried at Sunnyside Cemetery since it opened in 1906, including the town’s first mayor and the first officer killed in the line of duty in 1912. Plots are no longer available on the property.
Christina Williams visited the graves of her father and two brothers and had to walk carefully among the headstones in order not to stumble into gopher holes dotting the yellow lawn.
“You’re supposed to respect the dead. This is awful,” she said. “It looks like a dump… with headstones.”
Sunnyside overcame a financial disaster in mid-90s, when then-owner stole nearly half of a $1 million dollar endowment and spent it on a Mercedes, bar bills and trips, reports CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Lopez. According to Williams, it was about three years ago when everything went south.
The owners of the cemetery, run by a board of directors, have for years tried to sell the property to the city of Long Beach, which owns and operates a cemetery just next door. Now, the board has announced plans to shut the gates on Aug. 31 unless a deal is reached with the city, leaving loved ones like Williams dismayed.
Lopez reports the state is expected to take over and find an owner in the event no deal is reached.