Photography banned at Downey Cemetery

DOWNEY - Hoping to deter unsolicited filming and photography of grave stones and monuments, the Downey Cemetery District updated its filming policy last month prohibiting anyone from recording inside the cemetery without a permit. While the district already requires a permit for commercial filming, district administrator Arlene Salazar says recent concerns motivated district trustees to clarify the policy's language.

"We have a filming policy in place already, just like the city does, but we wanted to add to the existing policy to capture all of the new technology," said Salazar. "We don't want pictures to show up on Facebook or Instagram -- that's not respectful to others' markers."

According to the updated policy, "in no event may a person photograph, film, videotape or otherwise record with any kind of mechanical or manual device any monument, grave or niche without requesting a permit...[and] without permission of the family."

Salazar acknowledged that questions of what deemed filming at the cemetery, located at 9073 Gardendale St., were causing concerns among trustees leading to the latest policy changes.

"Downey is a popular place to film, but we want to make sure no one is using photos or recordings of makers for personal gain," said Salazar who revealed people have asked to host weddings and quinceaneras at the cemetery.

"The Downey Cemetery is a place for reflection. We're trying to improve the policies to insure someone can't just come in with a Polaroid. We want to extend the courtesy to family members and give them notice first."

Founded in 1928, the Downey Cemetery District, which is made up of three local trustees, is contracted by the County of Los Angeles to oversee the historic cemetery, which is the burial site of 9,000 people including many of the early pioneers of the southeast LA County region.

Currently, the cemetery district trustees are former mayors Diane Boggs, David Gafin, and Dr. Gary McCaughan.

Salazar said anyone interested in a filming permit may contact the city's social services division for permit fee information.

********** Published: July 25, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 15