Choosing Your Cemetery

Which of Santa Barbara’s Four Burial Grounds Is for You?

Santa Barbara Cemetery | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

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There are four places for internment in Santa Barbara, depending on where you live, your religion, and your decision to be cremated or not. For my husband and me, it boiled down to this: The Goleta Cemetery has residency requirements, and we’re not eligible; Calvary Cemetery is solely Catholic, and we are not; and the Historic Mausoleum at Old Mission Santa Barbara has added a columbarium with niche spaces for cremated remains ​— ​and although it’s lovely and open to all faiths, it just didn’t feel right, given my Jewish roots.

So, we made an appointment with Laura Ringquist at the Santa Barbara Cemetery Association. Chatty and knowledgeable, Ringquist was similar to a real estate agent showing off properties as she drove us past potential plots while outlining their merits and costs. When I asked about upright granite tombstones, she informed us that many modern cemeteries only allow for flat grass markers so as to minimize maintenance ​— ​understandable from a pragmatic point of view, but somehow antithetical to our vision of a graveyard.

Santa Barbara Cemetery rates range from $6,000 for an urn placement in a niche to $130,000 for companion sites in the Sunset Section. Those prices do not include internment fees, vaults and liners, or mandatory regulatory fees. The memorializing stone and engraving are an additional ticket item.

Like the majority of people in California, we will probably be cremated, so there’s a nice little spot in the Sunrise Urn Garden that will one day have our names on it. We picked the location because there’s a nice stone bench for our kids to sit on when they visit, the number of the plot is the same as the area code where I grew up, and, at the moment, the surrounding plots are unsold, so we’d have no neighbors.

Despite our area’s predilection for environmentally conscious living, there are no “green” cemeteries in Santa Barbara. This is when the body is buried in a simple biodegradable container with no toxic chemical embalming ​— ​embalming is not a legal requirement for burial ​— ​and no concrete vaults. The “green burial” movement is gaining momentum due to lesser costs, environmental responsibility, and the increasing desire to return to the old way of doing death ​— ​ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Cemeteries

Goleta Cemetery: 44 S. San Antonio Rd.;
(805) 967-3608; goletacemetery.com

Santa Barbara Cemetery: 901 Channel Dr.;
(805) 969-3231 sbcemetery.org 

Calvary Cemetery: 199 N. Hope Ave.; (805) 687-8811; catholiccm.org/location/calvary-cemetery-sb

The Historic Mausoleum at Old Mission: 2201 Laguna St.; (805) 682-4713 x139; santabarbaramission.org/mausoleum

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