Earlier this year, PRD announced a plan to eliminate tennis play at the Linda Beach tennis courts, proceeding with a pickleball-only trial in an effort to assess the need for dedicated pickleball courts and potential goal of establishing that at these courts. However, the current trial design has inherent bias and may be unjustified.
Over the past five years, pickleball has gained access to 4-6 courts 7 days per week — the same number as Alameda, whose population is ~8x that of Piedmont. So … how many players on our courts are also tax-paying residents of Piedmont? This question can be answered implementing the same resident-only decal system we have for tennis, while creating revenue needed to maintain the courts used by pickleball free of charge for the past five years. With this equitable and accessible solution, PRD can quantify Piedmont residents’ needs, monitor for growth within our community, and appropriately allocate resources.
The most disconcerting aspect of this trial is the unprecedented way in which it was planned and supported. The pickleball community has targeted these courts due to their upcoming scheduled maintenance, lobbying with PRD for their agenda of dedicated space. The fact is that you can play pickleball on a tennis court but you cannot play tennis on a pickleball court, and that every other recreation facility in Piedmont is shared.
Despite encouragement by the Rec Commission during the September 2022 meeting, PRD made the deliberate decision to not engage the broader community in advance of deciding on the trial parameters. This is also in direct contrast to the extensive outreach that preceded the 2018 introduction of pickleball to Piedmont tennis courts. Since receiving a negative response from tennis players and impacted neighbors, PRD has developed a dedicated email address to accept commentary. Unfortunately, PRD continues to demonstrate its predetermined position, evident in the biased language in the press release from two weeks ago describing the trial as a foregone conclusion. This language has effectively discouraged community input.
PRD and the pickleball community have created a site specific battle ground, and subsequent division within a community where we peacefully shared courts just weeks ago. This result, in which the local community feels marginalized, is in complete opposition of the core mission of a recreation department.
All Piedmont residents, please know that your input at the Feb. 15 Recreation Commission meeting can impact trial parameters. If you oppose this trial, please send your feedback to BeachPickleballTrial@piedmont.ca.gov.
In Sept, PRD director Chelle Putzer put forth information regarding a full-time pickleball trial at Beach. The Rec Committee asked her about the tennis community. She said there really isn’t one. The Rec Committee asked her if she needed to reach out to the neighboring community. She said no. She listened to the voices of those who would be positively impacted only.
Tonight members of the Beach tennis community attempted to give voice to our children, our neighbors and our conmunity. I presented a petition with 238 signatures collected in only 10 days time, that said clearly: Yes you do. You should ask all of the impacted parties before you change the function of a recreation space for the long term even if it’s temporary. You should do that first.
In a 5-1 vote the Rec Committee agreed with Ms. Putzer that community outreach first is not necessary. I respect their decision, and greatly appreciate the time, effort and work of these community volunteers, but I am disappointed in the message that they have given to all of us.
Amy makes a good point about finding an equitable and accessible solution and there are examples of that in other Bay Area communities. For example, courts at Ocean View Park in Albany are striped for tennis and pickleball:
It would be better for the 5-month trial to try this allignment to see how pickleball and tennis co-exist on the same court. Instead, the trial, as described in city press releases, is designed to provide maximum pickleball access to the community. That may be useful for defining needed future capacity but unless the Recreation Department rigorously monitors the residency of court users, as well as use patterns, the trial will overestimate Piedmont’s demand for pickleball. The history of use of the adjoining playfield should serve as an example.
Amy is correct on her second point – the initiation of this trial has not followed standard public process in Piedmont. Hopefully the Recreation Commission will respond to public comments at tonight’s meeting and recommend more parameters on how the trial will be conducted.
Piedmont Pickleball gained access to shared courts in town because our need grew and grew. Unlike Piedmont, Alameda has dedicated Pickleball courts and is in serious discussion of creating more courts, up to eight, at Estuary Park. We set up and remove our nets; Alameda has permanent nets like tennis does.
Amie advocates for a City based fee system as a means of finding out who is a resident and who is not. We don’t care where players are from as a Piedmont versus non-Piedmont head count is entirely inconsistent, even abhorrent, with the pickleball community we’ve created. We welcome all regardless of residency, demographics, orientation, race and age. A fee based system is frankly repugnant to our culture as open play has allowed pickleball to take hold and grow into a welcoming community. We commonly hear from players coming in from out of town that we are the most welcoming of all Bay Area venues. They say this with a bit of surprise.
Implementing fees will insure that opponents stop the growth of Piedmont Pickleball and thereby significantly reduce our court needs. A clever tactic but in the process it will destroy the community we have happily created and that so many in town value. The agenda item tomorrow night is whether the trial at Linda Beach should go forward. Poisoning the well by forcing a non-agenda issue of fees on the Recreation Commissioner is inconsistent with the issue at hand, the trial at Linda.
I’ve been trying to rehab my partially torn Achilles tendon. I’m at the point where I have been trying to start doing some drills on a pickle ball court without actually having to play a competitive game. On Saturday, February 25, I drove to the Piedmont Middle School, thinking that the cool and sometimes drizzly conditions would have led to a light turn out on the temporary pickle ball courts there. I hoped to practice some serves and maybe find someone with whom to do a few drills. I drove by the beautiful Corey Reich Tennis Courts on the way there. There were exactly two people there using only one of the four magnificent permanent dedicated tennis courts. I thought that this was great, that a temporary pickle ball court would surely be available for me to use since racquet sports playing people were obviously staying home. However, when I parked and walked down to the temporary pickle ball courts, there were at least 40 pickle ball players there with every temporary court full and multiple groups waiting to rotate in. I stayed about 2 hours, visiting with the very friendly pickle ball players and spending some time hitting against a cement retaining wall, waiting to see if people would leave so I could use a temporary court. It never happened. I drove home about 3:45 p.m., again past the still virtually empty Corey Reich Tennis Center. I can’t wait for the desperately needed trial to begin!