OCEANSIDE — iFly indoor skydiving facility is coming to Oceanside, to the chagrin of some neighboring homeowners. The council voted 3-2 to allow the facility after it was appealed by neighbors.
The 5,000 square feet entertainment facility will be built from the ground up at Vista Way and Valley Glen Drive. It will stand 59 feet tall; have a modern boxy shape and a unique light blue hue.
Inside participants can climb into a wind tunnel to experience the feeling of sky diving without jumping out of an airplane. Forced air keeps one person or a group afloat. The business caters to kids parties and school groups.
iFly franchises are a new entertainment draw. According to the iFly website there are 25 worldwide, one of which is in San Diego.
The planned Oceanside franchise is owned by Robert Blomsness, a former Navy SEAL, who is moving his young family to the city to start the business.
“I’m a veteran trying to be an entrepreneur, and trying to start a business,” Blomsness said.
Blomsness has reached out to neighbors through notifications and community meetings and taken feedback to heart. He voluntarily had an unrequired traffic study and noise study done to ensure neighbors the business would not have a negative impact.
The color of the building was toned down from the standard company teal blue to a subtle sky blue. Blomsness also plans to add upgrades to quiet facility fans, which are already at acceptable noise levels.
Additionally he arranged overflow event parking with the neighboring business, and agreed to add nine cypress trees to soften the landscape.
“Every time someone finds something they don’t like we try to find a solution to fix it,” Blomsness said. “I’m trying to be a good neighbor.”
Residents who will have a view of the facility, and some who will share an access road were not pleased. About 40 residents came to the City Council meeting wearing “no iFly” badges, and handed in a petition signed by 100 residents.
Speakers said they were still concerned with traffic, parking, noise and height of the facility. Several added the facility looks good on paper, but is not a fit for neighborhood.
One resident got right to the point.
“It’s the ugliest building I’ve seen in my life,” he said.
The business does check all the necessary boxes. It generates little traffic, has required parking and is the height of other area commercial buildings.
Visit Oceanside, the Chamber of Commerce and other residents spoke up for the business. They described it as a unique, fun business that is family friendly.
“It’s exactly what we want,” Leslee Gaul, Visit Oceanside president and CEO, said. “A local entrepreneur living his dream. It’s a metro fit for our sports tourism market.”
The business will have 35 employees, and is expected to generate $5 million annually.
The majority of the City Council members supported the project.
A motion by Councilwoman Esther Sanchez to uphold the appeal did not receive a second.
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilman Jack Feller both said they were undecided before the meeting.
Wood said the owner’s sincerity, efforts to address concerns and investment in purchasing the property led him to support the project.
Feller voted no along with Sanchez.
It’s estimated the iFly facility will be built within nine months, and open for business.