Letter to the Editor | PRD unfairly favors pickleball over tennis

PRD justifies their 5-month pickleball trial at Beach by citing rising interest and skyrocketing demand, so allow me to quantify this with a fancy word problem.

Typical pickleball matches last 15-30 minutes, played as doubles, and Beach Courts hold four concurrent matches at a time. Translation? Beginning Feb. 27, roughly 45-50 pickleballers per hour and over 500 pickleballers per day could play at Beach.

Got that? Pickleball’s more ubiquitous than COVID.

What is that same value for tennis, at Beach, beginning Feb. 27? Zero. Sound equitable?

It gets worse. To obtain a tennis decal PRD requires the applicant be a Piedmont resident with a $50 per year charge for an adult, along with $6 per court usage. Cost for pickleball? $0. Piedmont residency requirement? None. Wait, so free stuff has high demand?

PRD justifies shutting down tennis at Beach for five months by citing it is in poor condition, the least utilized for tennis, and unable to technically host competitive play.

First, describing Beach Courts as “poor condition” is like describing the DMV as “a tad inefficient.” Beach has effectively one usable tennis court with the other looking more like the surface of the moon.

Second, there is a greater amount of drop-in tennis play at Beach vs Hampton due to higher foot traffic on adjacent sidewalks.

Further, pickleball play does not even require registrations – it’s entirely free drop-in. Relevance? Even if PRD had presented objective utilization data – which they haven’t – it won’t change the fact it’s inherently flawed and one-sided.

Finally, regarding competitive tennis play: there is an actual plan, presented to the Rec Commission Nov. 7, 2018, that includes a design to rotate Beach Courts 90 degrees to conform to competitive tennis specs.

Now you may be asking, as did my very logical 1st grader, “why can’t we just keep sharing the courts?” as tennis and pickleball currently co-exist at Beach.

His bewildered expression of toothless naivete also got me wondering why neither PRD nor the city has widened the aperture and considered alternative options for this space ahead of the August 2023 repaving, such as basketball, badminton, or Beach volleyball!? We don’t know, but what is known is that allocating every hour of daylight for almost half a year at Beach to pickleball is not a meritocratic way to answer this question.

And before you pickleballers paddle off a vociferous defense of the sport, allow me to point out the merits of pickleball are not germane to this discussion. The point, instead, is that unilaterally changing the functionality of a public park in an inequitable manner for half a year, without adequate input from the tax-paying community in advance, is no laughing matter. It’s an egregious foot-fault by PRD leadership.

Expansion of pickleball hours should indeed be explored, but the Rec Commission should Vote “No” on Feb. 15 and form a subcommittee to pursue this using appropriate process, governance and oversight.

Piedmont deserves nothing less.

14 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor | PRD unfairly favors pickleball over tennis

  1. Is this proposal in addition to or in-lieu of Pickleball’s use of the six middle school courts every waking weekend hour?

    Separately, I’m not sure why the noise pollution aspect is being ignored here. In his comment above, Rick acknowledged that noise is already sometimes an issue from the much further (from the elementary school) play field on Linda and pickleball is so much noisier compared to any other sport. (Additional aside: Rick is not the first member of the community to conflate Basketball and criminality. Can this please stop? It is at best highly stereotypical.)

    A logical question becomes, where does this type of prioritization lead? If, as an example, when the pool opens next year, the senior community becomes infatuated with a novel, pool-based activity, will that get priority over traditional sports like swimming, diving, water polo, etc., because it is the fast-growing activity in Piedmont (plus, the Social Benefits!)?

    We all want our community to be happy, healthy, and socially-engaged, but the creeping dedication of all flat surfaces in the PRD catalog to Pickleball is definitely not the way to accomplish this goal.

    • Dear AJ Castro. Thanks for your comments and I fully agree with you. I would like to connect to discuss some of the efforts that impacted neighbors are conducting before the City Council decision on September 5th? My email is cblancovinas@yahoo.com

  2. Linda Beach is a noisy recreation area with soccer games, T-Ball games, kids happily shouting as they prance by and occasional loud music from the Tot Lot. There is also racquet sport noise.

    Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US and enjoys phenomenal success in Piedmont. An integral ingredient of that success is the wise City decision to use open play. A pickleball reservation system in other communities has stifled growth.

    The suggestion of sharing Linda with Basketball or Volleyball would eliminate the use of one tennis court and is inconsistent for those wishing to retain tennis at Linda. Many years ago before the grassy playfield there were basketball courts and numerous neighborhood complaints and some criminal activity. Possibly there is space on PUSD property for volleyball and I understand beach volleyball is being contemplated. I don’t see sand working at the Linda courts.

    Whatever decision is taken Feb 15 I will support and hope we can move forward as a community.

    • Rick – Once again, you are not addressing the issue here. The issue is is that what is being proposed is a taking (I know on a trial basis). Why can’t PRD just incrementally increase the amount open play hours for pickleball until a balance between pickleball and tennis can be found?

      • Obviously and unquestionably the trial is an attempt at reallocation of the limited and landlocked recreation resources in town. There simply is nowhere else in town that dedicated pickleball can exist and accommodate the current and growing need. As pickleball uses space up to four times more efficiently than tennis, the attempt is to both accommodate a new recreation/lifestyle phenomenon in town and make that available to more residents in existing space.

        On a macro level the State RHNA has imposed on Piedmont a legal mandate to create 587 more housing units resulting in c. 15% higher population density (currently c 3900 homes in town). Piedmont simply does not have further space to create more tennis or pickleball courts so a reprioritization of existing facilities seems to be the only solution.

  3. I completely agree. It is a loud game and the proposed hours are too long. Combined with the constant use of the soccer field by adults the noise is too much for the neighbors.

    • Hello Carolyn,

      I recently drove by LB field at 8:30 during school drop off and the mens pickup soccer game was in progress. Has that been occurring? As I recall, PUSD was given exclusive use of the field from 8:00 until 3:00 on weekdays. Perhaps that has changed.

  4. The phenomenal growth of Pickleball in Piedmont can be directly attributed to the City’s understanding and embracing of open play for pickleball rather then a reservation system. This was thoroughly examined in 2018 by the Recreation Commission and its Tennis/Pickleball Subcommittee and its recommendation and acceptance by City Council. Open play has been rigorously investigated and is a carefully implemented process.
    Some may see tennis and pickleball as equivalent racquet sports; they are not. Pickleball is both a recreational and social activity and this happens through open play. Without open play, pickleball reverts to being only a recreational activity.
    Commonly accepted in Tennis is that everyone understands that you play within your level: to just walk on to play with an unknown group might embarrass you if you didn’t keep up the level of play or waste the better player’s time. This does not encourage open play and makes rankings important to encourage balanced play in tennis. Contrast that with pickleball where players commonly vary in their level of play and still have a great game. With Open Play, pickleball is perfect for various age groups to play together.
    Open Play has been a wise policy decision by Piedmont legislative bodies and is essential to the rapid growth of Pickleball in town. Many veteran tennis players are both adding pickleball to their activities or entirely converting over. Come play! You just might like it.

    • Rick – your comment does not address the issue here. No one is arguing the positive or negative attributes of pickleball. The issue is that this is a taking (I know on a trial basis). No other sport will be able to use the courts during that time – which is not right given that this is a public park. Why can’t PRD just incrementally increase the amount open play hours for pickleball until a balance between pickleball and tennis can be found?

    • How about a sharing of existing facilities? Search for Shoreview Park San Mateo on Google maps and you will see an example of courts that are lined for tennis and pickleball. Instead of hybrid courts at Linda Beach why not stripe one for tennis and one for pickleball? Or do this at the other neighborhood tennnis courts around town for the trial period?
      Rick is right – open play is essential to pickleball. This is true of basketball which apparently got out of hand at Linda Beach in the past. Finally these proposed courts are very close to schoolmates and the kindergarten classroom. Have the instructors considered the potential noise impact?

      • Having the pickleball courts parallel to the line of homes on Howard provides noise mitigation. That layout must remain and means a separate tennis court is not possible. Linda is a constrained size court which further eliminates shared activities. No doubt Shoreview has full size regulation courts

        Because of intramural tennis tournaments, dual striping is not allowed at City Center or the park courts.

        • I hope PRD will look into Shoreview and verify what you say Rick but you usually do your homework. Given the rapid growth of PB, there must be examples of shared courts elsewhere. Does intramural happen at the neighborhood courts? I’m not proposing dual stripping at LB.

  5. quit using your fancy rhetoric and find something that makes you happy like all of us pickle ball addicts, give it a try, you might be eating your words.

    • I think the point is that there are folks that love tennis and it does makes us and our families happy playing it. We aren’t against pickle ball or it’s players. We’re just asking to continue to share the space.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *