Neighbors in California want Skydiving permit revoked

Neighbors Want Skydive Surfcity Permit Revoked

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Bill and Brenda Marinovich have endured the screams of skydivers landing 75 yards from their Calabasas, CA, home every day for the past five years.

On busy days, there are four divers every half hour, “coming right over our home,” said Bill Marinovich, who built his home in 1970.

The land adjacent to his property was originally zoned for agriculture.

Marinovich is now retired and would like to enjoy some peace and quiet.

“I’m vacuuming and there they are,” said Brenda Marinovich. “It’s hard to understand if you don’t live here.”

Their complaints have resulted in a planning board proposal to terminate Skydive Surfcity’s drop zone permit. Surfcity Owner Volker Haag uses the Calabasas drop zone when the Watsonville Airport is unavailable.

In June, the planning board voted that the Calabasas Road site could be used 18 half-days a year and only 6 days in the summer.

Haag says he would only use the Calabasas Road site one to two hours per year.

Marinovich, however, wants the permit permanently revoked.

“The cumulative nuisance of the last five years cannot be undone,” said Jean Marinovich, the couple’s daughter and attorney.

Priscilla Partridge and David Kikuchi, who live in the neighborhood, are supporting the appeal.

“I’m surprised they’re appealing,” said Haag. “This is such a waste of county time.”

Haag offers tandem skydives, which cost $150 to $200 per person. He paid $12,000 for the permit and wants it kept in place.

Haag, who bought the 10-acre site in 2011, invested $170,000 in aircraft, office space and parachuting equipment. He employs eight people full-time.

Matt Fearnehough, who lives at 513 Calabasas Road, is not bothered by the drop zone. He has even said that he would miss the parachutes if the permit were revoked.

In a letter to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Haag has contradicted the claims made by the Marinoviches.

“The claims made by the complaining neighbor in regard to the parachute flight passing going over their residence are false. This falsehood can be easily verified as they are contradicted by GPS data, numerous county staff site visits, countless independent neighbor testimony, sworn statements by instructors and finally the laws of physics.”

Haag has made his love of skydiving quite clear.

“Every bit of money I made on the side was put into jump tickets,” Volker said of taking up skydiving while in college in Stuttgart, Germany. “I couldn’t go out for dinner. I didn’t eat much. I lived in the dorms. Then, I graduated, drove my old VW to Spain, did 100 jumps in a month and sold my car for 20 jump tickets. I took a bus home.”

In 2009, when Volker was traveling through California, he met the owners of Skydive Surfcity. Soon after, he became a partner and eventually purchased the company and its two planes.

“When you take people up who are doing it for the first time, you get that first-time feeling from them,” he said. “Seeing someone have that freefall sensation, nothing is like that.”

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