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Colma Facing Housing Problem -- Not For The Living, But The Dead

COLMA (CBS SF) -- A housing crisis is nothing new for cities in the Bay Area, but Colma has one that is truly unique.

The two-square mile community located just south of San Francisco is the Bay Area's 'City of Souls.' With a living population of around 1600 people, it is also home to the final resting place for 1.5 million others.

But now the plots are filling up and the county says threat of a future shortage has become the source of concern.

"It should concern a lot of us because where are we going to go?" said San Mateo County Commissioner David Canepa. "It's about dignity and respect and taking care of those people and making sure we honor their memories."

Nearly 75 percent of the city is made up of cemeteries and long ago San Francisco and other nearby cities ran out of room for burials.

The city's largest operators of cemeteries say they also are running out of space. The Hills of Eternity family of cemeteries has just 5,000 plots left. Woodlawn has 1,000 and Cypress Lawn another 7,500.

"We just don't have the land so we just have to find those spaces which make sense and are convenient," Canepa said. "If we don't have spaces, then people don't have a choice and that can be problematic."

Cypress officials are currently looking at taking over the Cypress Golf Course and converting it into cemetery plots. But others are demanding city officials take over the course and build affordable housing.

Without the golf course expansion, officials said burial space in Colma could be filled up by the 2030.

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