If all goes as planned with the historic Mountain View Cemetery’s 7.5 acre expansion, some premium spots—untouched 153 years later—could go for $25,000, with a few asking as much as $50,000.
Mountain View straddles the border of Piedmont and Oakland, with the majority of the historic graveyard on the Oakland side, including all of the land included in the project.
No new land is being incorporated into the cemetery under the new project, which has been years in the making. Rather, the idea is just to fix up and start selling off some of the largely untouched areas, as detailed in the nearly 400-page draft Environmental Impact Report.
Jeff Lindeman, the cemetery general manager and CEO, points out that only a few of the most geographically choice among the 6,300 new plots would sell for $25K or above.
He says space elsewhere in the cemetery starts at as little as $1,200, with the average burial site running between $10,000 and $15,000.
But he also acknowledges that the ritzy hillside graves in the southwest portion would be the most expensive commodities sold in Mountain View history.
“We believe it would benefit Mountain View to grow the trust fund, and funds are generated by additional sales of plots,” Lindeman told Curbed SF.
With American cities increasingly dense—and open space more and more carefully guarded, with traditional burials less and less common—the question of how best to manage land assets can be a sticky one for 21st century graveyards.
Mountain View, founded in 1863 hosts the tombs of such notables as chocolate magnate Domingo Ghirardelli and Elizabeth Short, victim in Hollywood’s infamous “Black Dahlia” murder.
But it’s also a historic asset, de facto public park, and home to some primo real estate for the living. It also provides one of the best views of downtown Oakland, the bay, and the city beyond.
In short, it’s exactly the kind of thing that Bay Area neighbors guard jealously when change is in the wind. The expansion project is now in the public comment phase of the entitlement’s process.
The draft report estimates that the expansion would provide enough usable land to keep Mountain View in the grave business for 15 years, but initially favors an alternative with a smaller scope.