Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Michael Jackson will not be buried at Neverland Ranch [Updated]

July 1, 2009 |  9:46 am

[Updated at 1:30 p.m.: A representative of Colony Capital, the private equity firm that owns Neverland Ranch, approached Santa Barbara County officials about burying Michael Jackson at the site, an attorney for the county confirmed. Officials researched the request and found that the bureaucratic hurdles on the state and local level for interment on property that wasn’t designated a cemetery were extensive.

“We have not seen [such a burial] in recent decades,” the county lawyer, Michael Ghizzoni, said. “Based on our contacts with the state, we think it would be a process of months, not weeks.”]

Funeral arrangements for Michael Jackson are still in flux, but one thing is clear: The pop icon will not be buried at Neverland Ranch.

Jackson’s family wanted him interred at the Santa Barbara County estate, the site of some of the happiest and saddest times in his life, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had agreed to help clear any state bureaucratic hurdles, a source close to the situation told The Times.

But in the end, the source said, county officials could not find a way to quickly circumvent legal restrictions governing burial at a private residence.

"It’s nobody’s fault. Everybody in Santa Barbara feels bad about it,” the source said.

Law enforcement officials had expressed concerns about thousands of cars driving up a narrow mountain road to Neverland.

Santa Barbara County sheriff's Lt. Butch Arnoldi said that the two-lane Figueroa Mountain Road is not designed for a crush of cars and that his department is discussing how to make the route to Neverland as safe as possible.

There have also been reports the memorial might be held at Staples Center.

Santa Barbara County spokesman William Boyer said Wednesday that despite meetings to prepare for the possibility of a memorial service, county officials had not heard from the Jackson family.

"There's been no decisions that have been made as of last night," Boyer said. He said the county and sheriff's officials had been in touch with their law enforcement counterparts in Southern California.

LAPD officials said Tuesday that they met with the Jackson family but that no final decision had been made on either a memorial service or funeral plans.

-- Harriet Ryan and Andrew Blankstein

Photos: Fans grieve worldwide

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009
Photos: Michael Jackson, 1958-2009


Video: Celebrating Michael Jackson's legacy


Interactive map: See significant sites in the life and death of Michael Jackson, including Neverland Ranch and his boyhood home in Gary, Indiana.