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Additional North County Cemetery District sphere stops south of Bonsall - Valley Center sphere unchanged


Last updated 4/12/2007 at Noon

The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission updated the sphere of influence of the county’s four cemetery districts April 2, extending the boundaries of the sphere of influence for the North County Cemetery District although not extending the sphere of influence as far north as Bonsall.

The updates retained the existing sphere of influence for the Valley Center Cemetery District, which covers a portion of Pala and a portion of Gopher Canyon.

The sphere of influence updates were part of a municipal service review for the four cemetery districts. A sphere of influence study is a prerequisite for annexation or other boundary changes, although the approval of a sphere of influence update does not in itself change territorial boundaries. The previous sphere of influence update for the four cemetery districts was approved in October 1986.

San Diego County has four cemetery districts: the North County, Pomerado, Ramona, and Valley Center districts. The North County Cemetery District was formed in 1984 by the merger of the Escondido Public Cemetery District and the San Marcos Public

Cemetery District (both of which were originally created in 1930) and operates two cemeteries (Oak Hill Memorial Park in Escondido and San Marcos Cemetery) while the other three cemetery districts each operate one cemetery. The North County Cemetery District encompasses 83.2 square miles while the additional sphere of influence had been 48 square miles before the addition of 26,769 acres, including unincorporated Vista, to the sphere of influence.

A cemetery district is formed to provide an option to people who need to use a public internment facility rather than a private cemetery, and a cemetery district may maintain one or more cemeteries or acquire and maintain a mausoleum if it was built prior to May 1, 1937. A cemetery district is also authorized to conduct business necessary to ensure proper operation of the cemetery.

Only a resident who had lived within the cemetery district boundaries is eligible to be buried in a public cemetery. Those who wish to be buried with friends, church members, or other social group members may not be buried in a public cemetery unless their residence has been annexed to a cemetery district.

The requests for burials from residents not currently within the boundaries of a cemetery district led to significant sphere of influence expansion for two of the districts. “Requests for internment services from outside the district’s boundary and sphere are occurring frequently,” said LAFCO analyst Claire Riley.

The land must actually be annexed into a cemetery district before a deceased resident is eligible for burial in the public cemetery. No such restrictions exist on burial in private cemeteries.

Unlike fire district and water district annexations handled by LAFCO, which in many cases allow for additional development to be served, expansion of cemetery district boundaries is not considered growth-inducing. “It is more really a response to the growth that has taken place,” said Dennis Sheppard, the general manager of the North County Cemetery District. “I think the MSR [municipal service review] addresses that pretty well.”

The Valley Center Cemetery District, which was formed in 1931, maintains a cemetery covering approximately two acres and also operates an office building. It currently encompasses approximately 84.5 square miles. Although the current cemetery area is expected to address demands for several years, the district is in negotiation to purchase neighboring land which would increase cemetery capacity by approximately 40 percent.

The Pomerado Cemetery District sphere of influence expansion of 134,805 acres adds the Scripps Ranch, Mira Mesa, and Miramar areas of San Diego, which have generated the largest interest in burial at Dearborn Memorial Park in Poway, and the sphere of influence expansion also covers Santee and Lakeside along with the portion of Ramona between the Barona Indian Reservation northern boundary and the Ramona Cemetery District southern boundary.


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