Calvary Cemetery in Santa Barbara.
The spot near the dirt pile is where Calvary Cemetery in Santa Barbara plans to add 553 double-depth, pre-installed lawn crypts. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Calvary Cemetery is planning to add 1,106 graves to its property on North Hope Avenue in Santa Barbara.

The project went before the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission this past week. In addition to adding 1,106 burial spaces, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which owns the cemetery, wants to add a small cremation garden.

The burial spaces would come in the form of 553 double-depth, concrete, pre-installed lawn crypts, which would allow for two stacked burials.

Pollyanna LaLiberte, project coordinator for LaChaine & Associates, the architectural firm handling the project, said at the meeting that the double burial crypts are used at military and Catholic cemeteries in the Western states because burials sites are limited now.

“We’re getting very limited in our burial sites, and these additional sites will also allow local families to have a place where their loved ones can be buried, so they won’t have to travel out of the area,” she said. 

Urban cemeteries have been running out of room during the past two decades, forcing owners to consider creative ways to continue adding burial sites. The famed Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia could run out of room by 2041.

The new graves would mostly go along North Hope Avenue, on undeveloped land. The project went before the Historic Landmarks Commission because the cemetery’s Stations of the Cross, Mausoleum and a sinkhole are on the property. The structures are part of the city’s Historic Resources Inventory. 

The sinkhole was discovered by workers and may be related to the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.

“Some gravesites had been moved way back when a retaining wall was built between the maintenance yard and the sinkhole,” LaLiberte said. 

Once completed, the appearance would be identical to the rest of the existing developed cemetery, although four new parking spaces would be added.

“No graves will be removed, nothing will be changed,” LaLiberte said. 

The project was approved by a vote of 7-0.

Historic Landmarks Commission chairman Anthony Grubine stepped down for the discussion and vote because the firm he works for, Harrison Design, has the Catholic church as a client on a separate project. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.