LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Civil Court judge on Tuesday ordered Grand View Memorial Park to open for three days, allowing family and friends to visit their loved ones’ graves.
Attorneys representing a group of families suing the cemetery requested a court order for the openings, citing concerns over the limitations on family visits.
Judge Anthony Mohr ordered the cemetery be open Sunday, July 13 and July 27, during the hearing at the Central Civil West Courthouse. He also scheduled a court conference for July 29 to determine whether the openings should occur more frequently.
Glendale’s oldest cemetery has faced troubles since October 2005, when state investigators found the remains of 4,000 people had not been properly buried or disposed. The city took over the operation of the cemetery and allowed visitation, but suspended its involvement.
Attorneys Paul Ayers and Mary Der-Parseghian say families are entitled to visit their loved ones’ graves more often.
“The fact of the matter is the cemetery should be five days a week and eight hours a day,” Ayers said.
“If you go to any cemetery in this county, the doors are open.”
But attorney David Baum, who represents cemetery operator Moshe Goldsman, said better supervision must be implemented before he and his client agree to more openings.
Volunteers discovered a broken lock on May 25 at the cemetery’s west mausoleum, Baum said.
He said he believes the broken lock is an example of why the cemetery openings should be limited.
“At this point, it would be prudent to maintain a once-a-month time frame,” Baum said.
The cemetery is scheduled to reopen to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The state removed owner and operator Marsha Lee Howard from her post in November 2005 and prohibited the cemetery from conducting new business. Goldsman, who took over as operator, then closed the cemetery six months later, citing financial hardship.
The city stepped in for many months and opened the cemetery for four hours a week, until financial and fire hazard issues became too great.
In August 2007, the city obtained a public nuisance abatement order against the property that allowed it to bypass legal hurdles and do the cleanup work itself. It remained closed as Goldsman invested more money into the irrigation system and other improvements.
The cemetery reopened March 30 and May 25, allowing hundreds of people to visit.
Baum said his client will continue to try to arrange openings on a monthly basis.
“We are still working out the wrinkles,” he said.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at email@example.com.