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Plane crashes raise questions about safety and development near Oceanside Airport

Proposed 'OceanKAMP' would add hotel, homes nearby
Oceanside plane crash
Posted at 8:22 PM, Jun 06, 2022

OCEANSIDE (KGTV) – Within the last four months, there have been two small plane crashes near the Oceanside Airport, renewing questions about safety at the non-towered facility and a proposed mega-development nearby that would add attractions, commercial space and hundreds of housing units.

Friday’s plane crash killed one person and critically injured another. It was the second small plane crash near SR-76 and Foussat Road since February.

Both planes went down near a 92-acre plot of land that is the proposed future home of OceanKAMP, a multi-million dollar “mixed use destination” whose design calls for a wave lagoon and artificial beach, housing, a 300-unit hotel, parks, and various commercial and retail space.

The project is on track to be heard by Oceanside’s Planning Commission sometime this summer, said Interim Development Services Director Darlene Nicandro.

Before it reaches the commission, the Federal Aviation Administration and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority must formally evaluate the proposal.

OceanKAMP’s developer, N4FL Worldwide, has already started grading work on the plot, which used to host a drive-in theater and swap meet.

“For more than 50 years, our property has been home to highly visited attractions and surrounded by existing commercial and residential development,” developer Mike Grehl said in a statement.

“As part of the ongoing planning process to transform this site, OceanKAMP has already undergone significant public review and will be designed to meet all Federal Aviation Administration safety standards,” he added.

Both crashes involved planes owned by GoJump America, a skydiving company that operates out of the Oceanside Airport and is the most high-profile user of the small facility.

Neighbor Drew Andrioff said he first raised concerns about the company in 2018, after several incidents where parachutes, cameras, and other debris fell into backyards in the neighborhood.

“The city owes it to the residents of Oceanside to take a better look and potentially call GoJump to a hearing and find out what they're doing. Are they endangering some of the neighborhoods around here?” said Andrioff, who is running for City Council.

GoJump did not respond to a call seeking comment.

The crashes are renewing focus on the airport itself, which some residents see as a roadblock to addressing Oceanside’s housing and affordability issues. There have been calls to shut down the airport for years.

“This is an airport that was built over 60 years ago when there wasn't a lot of residential neighborhoods surrounding it,” Andrioff said. “Maybe the airport doesn't really make a lot of sense in today's environment.”

A spokesperson for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said its staff are aware of the proposed OceanKAMP project and have begun coordinating with the City of Oceanside.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those hurt and killed in the two recent aviation accidents near Oceanside Municipal Airport,” said spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo.

Once a formal application is submitted to the Airport Authority, staff will review the project to ensure it meets various safety policies designed to “minimize risks to people and property on the ground and to people on board aircraft,” she said.

Only the FAA has jurisdiction over the airspace surrounding the Oceanside Municipal Airport, LoPiccolo said.

In a January presentation to Oceanside's City Council, N4FL developer Mike Grehl said all buildings on the property would be capped at 50 feet, likely a maximum of three stories.

He estimated the project will generate more than $81.4 million in tax revenue over 10 years.

The company hopes to open OceanKAMP in the spring of 2024.