Monastery applies for cemetery on outskirts of Santa Paula

July 09, 2021

Hearing July 15 on controversial ‘after the fact’ permit

An application for a conditional use permit to establish and operate a cemetery for 30 years at the St. Barbara Monastery on the outskirts of Santa Paula at 15799 Ojai Road will be heard by the Ventura County Planning Commission on Thursday, July 15, at 8:30 a.m. at the county Government Center.

The applicant is the Foundation for the Support of the St. Barbara Monastery Cemetery and the application number is PL18-0116.

The Planning Commission meets in the Board of Supervisors meeting room in the Ventura County Government Center’s Hall of Administration, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura.

According to its website,, the monastery is a women’s monastic community of the Diocese of the West of the Orthodox Church in America.

The monastery was founded in 1992 and moved to its location in the unincorporated area on Ojai Road in 2005. It is a quarter mile past Thomas Aquinas College from Santa Paula.

In the monastery’s April-May newsletter, it references a special day in the second week after Pascha, called “The Day of rejoicing,” when Orthodox Christians visit the graves of the departed and pray the paschal memorial service for them. The newsletter reads, in part, “Here at St. Barbara Monastery, we will walk the short distance to the grave shared by two of our departed nuns, Mother Mariamne and Mother Julian, and then continue down to the infant cemetery in the woods near the creek.”

The nuns who live on the property hold daily liturgical services and partly earn their living by growing and selling lavender and lavender products, making and selling caskets, giving retreats, and operating a small bookstore, according to the monastery website.

The CUP application is for an after-the-fact authorization of the burial of two adults and 26 infant remains, according to the county Planning Department.

New interments would be in a different location from the current interments. They are planned to be located 100 feet from the Federal Emergency Management Act floodplain, according to the application. The current interments would go through a “flood-plain clearance” process through the county Public Works Agency, according to Planning staff. It is estimated in the application that there would be about three burials a year.

A 1,450-square-foot chapel was built on the site through a Planned Development Permit.

Notice of the CUP application was placed in a newspaper legal ad and 23 postcards were sent to residents within 300 feet of the monastery’s property 10 days in advance of the hearing, according to the Planning Department.

The meeting will be livestreamed and can be accessed at:

The agenda for the meeting may also be reviewed at that site.

Because there is limited seating in the hearing room, people are able to make public comments via Zoom by registering at:

People wishing to speak via Zoom must register with their name, email and phone number on the above site no later than 3:30 p.m. the day before the hearing, which would be Wednesday, July 14. Once registration is approved, speakers will receive an email with the Zoom meeting link and password by 5 a.m. the day of the hearing.

Those watching the livestream of the meeting and wanting to make a general public comment not on the agenda or to comment on a specific agenda item as it is being heard may submit a comment of 250 words or fewer to the recording secretary at (That email address will not be operational until the day of the hearing.) 

Those commenting are asked to include in the subject line of the email both the agenda item number and the words “Read at Hearing.” Comments received after an agenda item will be made part of the record if received prior to the end of the hearing.

Those wanting to make a comment on a specific agenda item are asked to submit a comment to the case planner for that item via email by 3:30 p.m. The day prior to the hearing.

The case planner for the monastery application is John Oquendo, whose email is

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