UPDATE (10:37 a.m.) - Santa Maria Cemetery District Manager Ron Jacobs issued the following statement Tuesday morning in response to the petition:
Recently there has been some information that has come to light regarding the operating hours at the Santa Maria Cemetery. Unfortunately, as is prevalent in today's environment, a considerable amount of the information being circulated is inaccurate. For example, some have claimed that the General Manager is reducing access to the cemetery by limiting operating hours. This is not true. The General Manager does not have the authority to unilaterally change the operating hours. This is a decision that involves a change in policies which falls to the governing body of the cemetery and currently, there is nothing on the agenda to change the operating hours. For clarification, the cemetery is open from dawn to dusk. Thus, as with previous years, due to seasonal changes and daylight savings time, the cemetery will be closing earlier as the sun sets earlier in the day.
The cemetery acknowledges that there has been some discussion regarding operating hours, but this was in response to complaints received from community members who were commenting on the amount of inappropriate activity happening at the cemetery when the staff is not present. Some of this activity involves drinking of alcohol on public grounds, setting up tents and tables that encroach on other loved one's graves, and additional activity that is not appropriate for a cemetery environment. The cemetery should be a quiet place for remembrance of loved ones, and therefore we ask community members to be respectful of others as they mourn their loved ones.
(7:27 a.m.) - Rumors surrounding the Santa Maria Cemetery over potential cuts to visitation hours have locals concerned.
One regular visitor was devastated, as his mother passed just weeks ago.
"My mom and I were really, really close, and I would be here every day if I could but time won't allow that," explained Adolfo Pineda.
Being a full-time student, and having a part-time job already makes it difficult for him but with reduced hours it would be even harder.
"People get off work late, and it's easier to visit on the weekends, so they should be able to come whenever they want they're paying to have their loved ones here," said Fernando Orozco, Pineda's friend.
The two plan to have as many people as possible sign the petition to get their message across.
We reached out to the Santa Maria Cemetery District several times but they declined to comment
The manager could neither confirm nor deny the rumors but said he would reach out to the board for directors for more information.