Bury Me in the Backyard With my Cats and Dogs

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:

Please don’t bury me
Down in that cold cold ground…John Prine – Please Don’t Bury Me

When your time comes, unless you chose cremation, cryonics or some other process, you’re going to need a plot of land to be buried on. So, why not the backyard? It’s already paid for, you’ll be near loved ones and you can surround yourself with fish, birds, cats and maybe dogs that you have shared your home with. One problem, even in a state that is pretty much open to anything, the State of California will not allow this. Spreading your ashes about is probably OK, but if you’re headed for the “cold cold ground” it has to be in a cemetery.

The 2009 California Health and Safety Code defines a cemetery as:

7003. “Cemetery” means either of the following:
(a) Any of the following that is used or intended to be used and dedicated for cemetery purposes:
    (1) A burial park, for earth interments.
    (2) A mausoleum, for crypt or vault interments.
    (3) A crematory and columbarium, for cinerary interments.
(b) A place where six or more human bodies are buried.

So, if you were to die today, in Oakley, where could you be buried? Generally speaking there are four types of cemeteries:

  • District Cemeteries: Cemeteries owned by the City or County.
  • Religious Cemeteries: Cemeteries owned by a Religious Organization.
  • Private Cemeteries: Commercial cemeteries not owned by the local government.
  • Veterans Cemeteries: Cemeteries which accommodate the burial of veterans and their families.

Each owner will have different policies for managing the cemetery.

If you’re Catholic, living in Oakley and wanting to be buried locally, you have the option of being buried at The Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Antioch. If you’re not Catholic you can try the Union Cemetery, a non-denominational and public cemetery, providing burial for all qualifying district residents and their families. The Union Cemetery is located at 11545 Brentwood Boulevard, about half way between the City of Brentwood and the unincorporated community of Byron. There are no other public cemetery facilities nearby; however, private cemeteries include Oakview Cemetery and the aforementioned Holy Cross Cemetery, located in the City of Antioch.

The Union Cemetery is controlled by the Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District, voted into existence by the local taxpayers in 1928. This is an independent special district responsible for operating, maintaining, improving, and expanding the cemetery within its boundaries. It’s primary source of revenue, other than the fees collected for services, is property taxes.

When the district was initially created the citizens of Oakley decided not to join, probably because the majority were Catholic and already had access to Holy Cross. Currently Oakley residents have access to the Union Cemetery, but as space limitations increase this may not last.

On Tuesday night the Cemetery District staff proposed to the Oakley City Council that they would like to annex the portion of Oakley that is not is the District. The District would pursue annexation with LAFCO with the understanding that no property tax would be reallocated from the City as part of any tax-sharing agreement. The annexation would make Oakley citizens eligible to buried in the Cemetery, but they would be required to pay an “out-of-District surcharge” (currently $500) because no property tax would be going to the District. The City Council agreed to support their efforts under these conditions.


Contra Costa Cemeteries

Holy Cross Cemetery – Antioch
Oakview Memorial Park – Antioch
Live Oak Cemetery – Concord
Memory Gardens Memorial Park – Concord
St. Stephen’s Cemetery – Concord
Sunset View Cemetery – El Cerrito
Carmelite Monastery Cemetery – Lafayette
Oakmont Memorial Park – Lafayette
Queen of Heaven Cemetery – Lafayette
St. Catherine’s Cemetery – Martinez
Seasons Cemetery – Pacheco
St. Joseph’s Cemetery – San Pablo


About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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