Drew Andrioff was suspicious about a driver “creeping up and down my street” in the middle of the day.
The 495 houses in his Wanis View Estates neighborhood — between the Oceanside Municipal Airport and Camp Pendleton — sell for $600,000-plus. But because of the nearby San Luis Rey River, he says sketchy people pop up from time to time.
Andrioff, a small business owner, says he confronted the unfamiliar man cruising his street. “I said, ‘Hey man, can I help you?’”
The man was from GoJump Oceanside, the company that has been dropping skydivers over his neighborhood for three years. The GoJump employee was looking for a parachute that landed in someone’s back yard.
“I can name three other neighbors who had parachutes fall on their property,” says Andrioff. “There was a shoe, a wallet and a GoPro [camera] that I know of that fell out of the sky. No one has gotten hurt yet that I know of. But I can name six different instances where things have fallen out of the sky in the last four of five months.”
GoJump Oceanside has sky diving drops every day of the week unless it's raining or too cloudy or too windy. “I think they drop [skydivers] every half hour,” says Andrioff. GoJump Oceanside’s promotional material boasts that it executes over 50,000 safe parachute landings annually.
But Andrioff was so fed up with the GoJump airborne debris pelting his neighborhood, that he addressed the problem at the last city council meeting August 8. As soon as he finished speaking, city manager Michelle Skaggs Lawrence made the unusual move of leaving the council dais mid-meeting to give Andrioff her card.
While the GoJump Oceanside skydiving company boasts that it provides a unique attraction for visitors and helps the local economy, Andrioff isn’t sure the company is an overall plus for the community. “It just seems like a general hazard.”
Tim Broom, also a small business owner, is clear about what thinks about GoJump Oceanside. “This airport was never meant for skydiving. Operating an airport without a control tower is dangerous enough. Now the planes must compete with skydivers for airspace. This is an accident waiting to happen.”
Broom’s home is in the Eastside neighborhood due west of the Oceanside Airport. He has maintained that skydiving is safer in the Perris area of Riverside County where skydivers can land in open space away from homes and major thoroughfares.
The “drop zone” property reserved for GoJump Oceanside skydivers is city-owned property bounded by Highway 76, the southern border of the airport, the San Luis Rey River and Airport Road. Broom says it is too easy for GoJump skydivers or their detritus to fall on residents, cars or houses which are adjacent to the drop zone.
Broom took a photo of a skydiver who overshot the drop zone in December 2016 and who then walked along Highway 76 with this chute.
The U-T reported on February 16, 2013 that a skydiver was hurt after nearly being impaled on a fence.
In November 2013, one skydiver drifted north and was approached by U.S. Marines with rifles drawn who were not happy that the errant skydiver landed without permission on a military base.
Andrioff says he is amused by the skydivers’ whoops and hollers that are audible in his backyard. “You’d be surprised how well you can hear them coming down. It’s kind of cool.”
That amusement aside, Andrioff says there are better uses for the airport’s 43 acres that lie just east of I-5. “To me an airport doesn’t make any sense. The benefits don’t outweigh the risks to the community surrounding it.”
Broom says Oceanside would be much better served with a combination of parkland and commercial ventures like a Costco or a retail destination similar to Car Country Carlsbad.
Other locals suggest Oceanside should consider doing what the city of Santa Monica did last year: After years of fighting with the Federal Aviation Administration, Santa Monica succeeded in getting its municipal airport decommissioned, although that process won’t be complete until 2028.
Tsunami Skydiving ran the Oceanside skydiving operation from 2011-2015 when GoJump Oceanside acquired the business.
Oceanside City manager Michelle Skaggs Lawrence says the city has contacted GoJump Oceanside and APV, the Los Angeles company that operates the airport to make them aware of the complaint. She said via email: “We asked they review operations and procedures to ensure every skydiver empties out their pockets, removes all jewelry, and any loose material to prevent any falling debris.”