The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department manages five historic municipal cemeteries, Austin Memorial Park Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery, Plummers Cemetery, Oakwood Cemetery, and Oakwood Annex Cemetery.  We are entrusted by the families and decendants to care for these sacred places, and the cemeteries are indelible and essential parts of the neighborhoods in which they reside.  The department is embarking on a public process to update the Cemetery Rules and develop a plan for enforcement.

Cemetery Master Plan

City of Austin Cemeteries Page

Cemetery Rules Report

Topic: Ornamentation
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Define ornamentation.  What does grave ornamentation mean to you?

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Hugh Higgins 6 months ago

I agree with the McDoux Report, generally.

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Sharon Weintraub 21 days ago

On October 17, 2013, the Austin City Council enacted a resolution requiring the City Manager, in collaboration with stakeholders and a working group of the Parks and Recreation Board, to evaluate whether current cemetery policies related to grave ornamentation were appropriately sensitive to personal and cultural expressions of grieving, while preserving necessary safety for cemetery workers and respect for the values of all families.  This process was to be completed over six months. It has now been nearly four years! All the delay has been on the part of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD). The time has come to end these pointless consultants and meaningless surveys and for PARD to finally sit down at the table with stakeholders face to face and negotiate reasonable and fair regulations for the cemeteries in compliance with the 2013 resolution. I and other stakeholders understand that there need to be some reasonable regulations to ensure the safety and sanctity of the cemeteries. No one is arguing that we have to absolute right to place anything we want on grave sites. All we have ever wanted to do is sit at the table directly with PARD and sincerely work together as equal parties to develop new, fair, and comprehensive rules and regulations.

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Sharon Weintraub at April 18, 2017 at 5:47pm CDT

(Proposed) Cemeteries Rules; General Regulations

  1. No boxes, shells, toys, discarded glassware, sprinkler cans, water, hoses, or similar articles, will be permitted to remain on any walkway or street. Space owner or holder may decorate or memorialize the space only as provided herein.

All any items must be placed wholly within the confines of the space owned or held.

All items must be weather-and water-resistant and suitable for outdoor display.

Non-weather and non-water resistant items, such as paper materials, plush or stuffed animals or toys, clothing or fabric, or wood or plaster ornaments, may be placed within a space only on a temporary basis and must be removed by the space owner or holder within seven days from placement or when the item begins to deteriorate, fade, or decay, whichever is earlier.

All items must be firmly anchored within the space in a manner to secure and prevent the item or any parts of that item from leaning, falling over, breaking, or blowing outside of the confines of the space.

Items on any grave within the space may not exceed 36 inches in height and may not weigh more than 25 pounds. Items within the space, but not on any grave, may not exceed 60 inches in height and may not weigh more than 50 pounds.

Items containing political messages or offensive language are not permitted. Items, including flags or banners, representing the United States of America, any state within the United States, any nation, or any branch of the federal or state armed forces or services may be placed within the space or on the grave, provided that such item is made of weather-resistant materials. Flags or banners must be promptly removed when the item begins to fade, deteriorate, or fray. Space owners or holders and family members or visitors to a specific space may place items related to a religious practice or tradition on the grave or memorial within that space.

Hanging items such as wind chimes, spinners, and other ornaments (ornaments) may not exceed 12 inches in length, exclusive of the hanging cord or chain, and may not weight more than 16 ounces. Only one wind chime per space is permitted. An ornament may be suspended or hung on a pole within the space, provided that the pole is firmly and securely anchored and does not exceed 60 inches in height. Items may not be hung on trees within or adjoining the space using nails or spikes, but must be suspended from a weather-proof chain or cord. Such items: must be at least 72 inches from the ground; cannot be hung over streets, sidewalks, paths, or roadways; cannot be suspended in a way that will scar or inhibit growth of the tree or its branches; and must be secured in a manner to prevent the ornament from falling from the tree or tangling within the tree. To prevent the breeding of mosquitos or other noxious insects, no items that hold or retain water, such as bird baths or decorative fountains, are permitted.

To prevent the attraction of rats or other animal pests, bird feeders and similar feeding stations are not permitted.

  1. The construction, installation or placing of any wooden, concrete or cast iron bench, chair or table, or any wooden or wire trellis, shall be permitted only within any space. Any such item must be weather-resistant and firmly anchored within the space.

or

  1. The construction, installation or placing of any wooden, concrete or cast iron bench, chair or table, or any wooden or wire trellis, shall be permitted only within any space. Any such item must meet standards set out by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD). Such standards shall be provided to each space owner or holder and must be readily available at each cemetery and easily accessible through the PARD web site.

or

  1. The construction, installation or placing of any wooden, concrete or cast iron bench, chair or table, or any wooden or wire trellis, shall be permitted only within any space. The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) shall develop a list of recommended models or types of benches, chairs, or tables, and the space holder or owner may only install an item that complies with that list. Such list shall be provided to each space owner or holder and must be readily available at each cemetery and easily accessible through the PARD web site.

or

  1. The construction, installation or placing of any wooden, concrete or cast iron bench, chair or table, or any wooden or wire trellis, shall not be permitted on cemetery grounds. The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) shall, as part of its Adopt-A-Bench program, install a bench on or near any space at the request of the space holder or owner. PARD shall publicize the Adopt-A-Bench program at each cemetery and on the PARD web site and shall make applications readily available to space owners or holders.

  2. The construction of gardens over graves is permitted only as provided herein. All plantings must be drought- and freeze-resistant, native or adapted, low- or no-maintenance, and be selected from plants recommended by the City of Austin's Grow Green Native and Adapted Landscape Plants guide. Such plants, at maturity, may not grow higher than 24 inches or spread more than 36 inches. All such gardens must be contained within a rock, brick, or other border or container. Borders may not exceed six inches in height, and shall be securely anchored in the soil. Plants with thorns or nettles, invasive or non-adapted plants, or plants that can spread through a rhizome or root system outside of the grave site are not permitted. Space owner or holder must maintain the garden, including weeding, trimming or pruning, and promptly removing any dead or dying plants or any plants spreading outside of the garden

  3. Long lived hardwood trees such as live oak, Spanish oak, American elm, and cedar elm, and hardy native small trees or large shrubs, such as mountain laurel, yaupon holly, or crape myrtle, may be planted with the approval of the Superintendent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld.

  4. If any space is not in compliance with these regulations, PARD shall give the space owner or holder written notice specifically setting out the nature of the violation and how the violation may be brought into compliance. Notice shall be sent to the space owner's or holder's last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested. The space owner or holder shall have 30 days from receipt of such notice to remove or correct the said violation. If the space owner or holder fails to remove or correct the violation, PARD employees are authorized to do so in a manner that, within the reasonable discretion of the Superintendent, is the least invasive and disruptive to the space. PARD has the right to remove or correct any violation without notice if the violation presents an immediate and serious danger to the safety and welfare of PARD employees or the public, as well as to remove any neglected or deteriorated items and dead plants or flowers.

  5. These regulations shall be posted on the Internet through the PARD web site on a publicly accessible web page. Notice of these regulations shall be clearly and prominently posted at each cemetery, including the URL of the web page at which the regulations may be accessed by the public. Written copies shall be readily available at each cemetery or from PARD upon the request of a space owner or holder. A written copy of these regulations must be provided to each space owner or holder at the time of the purchase of any space. At the request of any memorial dealer, PARD shall provide a reasonable number of written copies of these regulations for distribution to persons purchasing memorials for installation within a City of Austin cemetery.

  6. Any items or plantings not in compliance with these regulations prior to the effective date of these regulations are grandfathered and not subject to removal. PARD and its employees may notify and encourage such space owners or holders to bring items or plantings into compliance, and may work with that owner or holder to bring the item or planting closer to or within compliance with these regulations.

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Iris Leon at April 24, 2017 at 3:56pm CDT

All I needed to read in the pdf file sent by Save Austin's Cemeteries is "Christianizing"...

Should the City choose to not allow ornamentation based on religious customs this would be a violation of the US Constitution. Period.

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