Stephen Ellison

Santa Clara Criticized for Lax Maintenance at Cemetery

The city of Santa Clara is under fire after complaints of lax maintenance at a city-run cemetery, and officials are blaming the city's ban on using Roundup weed killer.

People with loved ones buried at Mission City Memorial Park say the graves are overrun with weeds and long grass, so much so that the grave stones are barely visible.

One couple said many people have been complaining about the issue, and the city has done nothing.

"My husband and I went to put flowers on our relative's grave, and you can't even see the grave stones because weeds and grass have grown over the gravestones," Athena Pereira said.

Another man arrived at the cemetery this weekend to pay his respects to his grandfather, a World War II veteran, but said it took him four hours to find the headstone because of all the growth.

"I was appalled," Dave Pereira said. "As I walked on my hands and knees, I uncovered dozens of headstones of veterans."

The city released a statement Sunday, saying in part its discontinuation of weed killer Roundup has created a labor burden on its maintenance staff.

"The Mission City Memorial Park (MCMP), a 25-acre park, is one of two City cemeteries that the City of Santa Clara maintains. The amount of labor required to accomplish the more detailed grounds maintenance at MCMP has recently increased with the discontinued use of Roundup (a toxic chemical which was used in the past to control weeds and grasses around headstones, flat markers, curb lines, and pathways)," the city's statement reads. "Three full-time Grounds Maintenance staff have been supporting the MCMP. To improve MCMP maintenance, the City recently hired two additional part-time staff."

The statement continued to say the city has reached out to the community about having a "Volunteer Work Party" on Aug. 14 to maintain MCMP, and it is reviewing long-term permanent staffing levels as well as looking at alternatives to Roundup that may be more efficient.

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