Neighbors Clamor Over Noisy Cemetery Funerals

Residents are demanding an end to funerals on the rooftop of the cemetery's two-story mortuary, which began about a year ago

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In what has become a controversy over a cemetery's right to build in Lomita, residents who once had sunlight pouring into their windows now say they're sitting in front row seats to rooftop burials at Green Hills Memorial. Hetty Chang reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. from Rancho Palos Verdes Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014)

    Residents at a Lomita condominium who have long lived next to a cemetery in neighboring Rancho Palos Verdes are demanding an end to the grave-digging and 21-gun salutes that they say are disturbing the neighborhood.

    Vista Verde Condo residents are planning to attend a Rancho Palos Verdes meeting on Tuesday night to ask the city to put an end to rooftop burial ceremonies at Green Hills Memorial Park.

    "The whole thing is uncomfortable," said Lane Mayhew, a resident who has lived at the Vista Verde condos since 1995.

    Mayhew's balcony looks out over Green Hills’ two-story mausoleum, where about a year ago the mortuary began conducting services on the roof, including military salutes to honor veterans.

    "All of a sudden I hear dump trucks. Here they come digging for a funeral," Mayhew said. "I watch them go into the ground. I watch them dig the hole."

    Mayhew and other residents have hired an attorney after months of complaining, but owners for the Green Hills cemetery said the mausoleum has been approved by the city, and the residents are the ones being disturbing.

    Green Hills has issued a cease and desist order to locals, claiming they are disrupting the funerals by intentionally setting off their car alarms or coming onto their balconies to bang pots and pans together. 

    During the military honors we had a neighbor come to the fence line and yell profanities," said Green Hills President and CEO Ray Frew.

    Frew said he could not "imagine or even fathom" why someone would interrupt a military funeral service.

    Mayhew said the mortuary is "grasping at straws" and that there has only been one disruptive incident.

    "It’s not just my view, it’s my home," she said. "(People’s) homes are often a place of refuge. Mine was."

    The mausoleum got city approvl after a public hearing in 2007, but it wasn't completed until last year.

    Ranchos Palos Verdes officials have brought the residents' concerns to the city's planning commission, which will discuss possible solutions at Tuesday's meeting, said Joel Rojas, the city's community development director. 

    The city has proposed adding fencing and screening around the funerals and limiting the hours when the funerals can be held, Rojas said.