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Long Beach Bans New Funeral Homes, Mortuaries, Crematoriums For 9 Months

LONG BEACH ( — The Long Beach City Council banned new funeral homes, mortuaries and crematoriums for a 9-month period after residents raised concerns about living next to one of the facilities.

The freeze, which was originally set for a year, was prompted due to plans for Belmont Heights Funeral Center, which is located at 7th Street and Newport Avenue, to install a new crematorium.

People who live nearby said they believe crematory emissions pose a health risk.

Lisa Vanoni said, "We're concerned about property values, of course, but also possible carcinogens."

"I have to live next to burning human flesh," said resident William Snipes. "I have no choice."

Jonathon Polk, who runs Belmont Heights Funeral Center, said the residents' fear of death is what's actually clouding their judgment.

"We live in a city of almost half a million people. We only have one available cemetery to all our residents. The other is a Catholic cemetery and the other is a municipal cemetery, which is full. Cremation is really the only other alternative in the city," he said.

Polk said he may seek legal action if he's unable to run his business with the crematorium.

Councilman Gary DeLong, who sponsored the ban, said, "What they need to take a pause on is expanding (the funeral home) business to other services such as a crematorium, which may or may not be allowed at that location in the future. We just don't know until we take a look."

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