County planners deny paintball facility in Acton

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After three decades of enabling grown men to run between trees and shoot each other with paintballs, the married couple that own Paintball USA say they are being driven out of the Santa Clarita Valley by county planners.

The owners are being asked to build a road and, essentially, a private municipal water company before allowing the reactional business to proceed.

“They made my property useless,” Paintball USA owner Mike Schwartz told The Signal Wednesday.

“We put all our life savings into this business,” he said. “We invested all our money into this.”

On Tuesday, Schwartz appealed to Los Angeles County officials for permission to operate a paintball facility at a property he owns on Crown Valley Road in Acton.

Instead, planners with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning turned him down.

He asked for a zoning permit that would allow people to shoot each other with paintballs on land zoned as heavy agricultural.  He was denied.

“Project No. R2006-02751 was not approved,” Mitch Glaser, spokesman for the planning department, told The Signal Wednesday.

“The hearing was continued to June 6 so that the applicant could submit additional materials that were previously requested but not submitted.”

What planners want him to submit, Schwartz said, is cost-prohibitive.

“They told me I have to build an access road and develop my own private municipal water company,” he said. “They declared my property unusable for paintball and declared it a significant ecological area.”

Paintball USA, which operates in Santa Clarita and Oxnard and open every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosts birthday parties and “corporate team building events” on land leased on Sierra Highway.

This weekend, the company is hosting an elaborate 4-day military training event on property Schwartz leased on Sierra Highway, at 15112 Sierra Highway, about a half mile south of Davenport Road, enabling U.S. Army ROTC students from half a dozen colleges to train.

The couple said they would rather hold the event on the property they own in Acton.

Schwartz and his wife, April, had a paintball facility in Ventura County but that too was shut down recently, according to Mike Schwartz: “Because I’m next to the (Santa Clara) River.”

“They told me that because I was next to the river my levee had to be certified. They said if there was a flood, one of your bunkers could flow down the river and hurt somebody.”

What angers Mike Schwartz most is that for more than 20 years, he and his wife had obtained conditional use permits from Los Angeles County with no problem.

“Everything was legal, everything was done right. We had the support of the military, the police and corporations.”

Schwartz said he and his wife are thinking of selling their property in Acton and are now looking at property in Ventura County near Piru, to be close to the vast clientele the couple has built up over 30 years.

“Trying to do business in L.A. is ridiculous,” he said. “There are so many rules.”


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on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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