City Council OKs pickleball plan for Linda Beach courts

Julie Reichle

The Linda Beach tennis courts will be restriped for pickleball-only play later this year.

The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a 55-hour-a-week schedule for pickleball at Linda Beach Park – a sort of compromise.

While the erstwhile tennis courts will be converted into full-time pickleball courts, play time will be reduced to 55 hours a week from the 84 hours permitted during the recent trial period.

During the five-month trial period from March 1 until July 31, pickleball play was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The shorter hours were recommended by city staff following meetings of a working group made up of neighborhood resident Kara Christenson, pickleball player Jeff Trowbridge, City Administrator Rosanna Bayon Moore, and Piedmont Recreation Director Chelle Putzer. 

The working group and the council had the difficult job of pleasing both the pickleball community and neighbors affected by noise created by pickleball play.

“The goal moving forward is to meet the most needs we can,” Mayor Jen Cavenaugh said Tuesday night.

The working group was formed after the City Council in early August opted to delay a vote on Linda Beach pickleball plans, in large part to address the concerns of Linda Beach neighbors who said the constant, reverberating thwack of the pickleball paddles striking the balls were affecting neighbors’ quality of life, property values, and even their physical health.

“I don’t think you’ve heard anything the neighborhood has said,” Lisa Neville told the council Tuesday. “(Pickleball) doesn’t belong in a canyon; it doesn’t belong in a neighborhood. Why has that not crossed your minds?”

Brian Kotlyar, who also lives near Linda Beach Park, called for a “proper” sound study and asserted a council vote to establish pickleball at the park permanently would result in “guaranteed litigation.”

But many more people spoke Tuesday night in favor of changing the Linda Beach courts to exclusive pickleball use. Several speakers Monday night praised the sport not only as great exercise for people of all ages, but as a social network.

Former Piedmont Mayor Teddy Gray King told the council Tuesday that after her mother died, her father came to live with her family and found friendships on the courts during a difficult transitional time. “The pickleball players opened up their arms and greeted my dad,” King said.

Several pickleball players said pressure on the city’s courts is significant, and that they often have to wait through three or four games before getting a chance to play themselves.  

Council members said they were aware that paddle noise remains an issue. Last month, Bayon Moore said upcoming 10-year court renovation work could include upgraded physical noise reducing measures, though such measures have yet to be determined. Councilwoman Jennifer Long reiterated that idea Tuesday, asking whether such improvements could be added at a future date; Bayon Moore said they could, though doing so as part of the upcoming renovations would be preferable, as that work would be less expensive at that point.

In the meantime, city officials said, more information about hours and noise can be gathered in the few months the courts will be used before the renovation work starts, probably early in 2024.

Under the plan approved Tuesday by the council, public hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Wednesday play will be 2-6 p.m., and for youth only. The hours would be somewhat flexible throughout the year, with longer stretches of playing time available when the sun is out longer (think summer) and shorter when daylight hours end earlier. The 9 a.m. start time, Putzer said, is an important predictable constant.

Jeff Nguyen, who has said he can’t usually play until after 6 p.m., said what the council approved is a good thing, and that Piedmont needs all the courts it can find.

“It’s not going to make everybody happy, but that’s what the spirit of compromise is,” he said.

Shout-out to Sidekicks

The council on Tuesday also observed Teen Sidekicks Day, showing appreciation for a program in which local teens volunteer to work with neurodiverse youngsters who signed up for Piedmont Recreation Department summer camp programs.

Piedmont Recreation Supervisor Eva Phelan said the 34 young people part of the program this summer had to go through training, and needed patience. “These Teen Sidekicks made our campers feel included,” Phelan said.

One of those Sidekicks, Ella Puckett, told the council it was gratifying to work with kids who make their way through the world in their own special way.

“It’s really beautiful, and it’s really important,” Puckett said.

Contact Sam Richards at

*This article was updated on 9/8/23: Jeff Nguyen said he couldn’t play *until* after 6 p.m. , not “play after 6 p.m.”

6 thoughts on “City Council OKs pickleball plan for Linda Beach courts

  1. I don’t think anyone is questioning the benefits of pickleball play, but please listen to what the nearby residents have been saying for months about the noise nuisance.

    Just in this article:

    “I don’t think you’ve heard anything the neighborhood has said,” Lisa Neville told the council Tuesday. “(Pickleball) doesn’t belong in a canyon; it doesn’t belong in a neighborhood. Why has that not crossed your minds?”

    Brian Kotlyar, who also lives near Linda Beach Park, called for a “proper” sound study and asserted a council vote to establish pickleball at the park permanently would result in “guaranteed litigation.”

    More demand for pickleball play does not change the fact that the unnatural popping noise (about 60 times per minute) is a nuisance for many nearby residents, as the City has known since 2019. Due to the topography of the Linda Park and the elevation of the homes, traditional noise mitigation tools due not work. The Piedmont Pickleball Club has known all along that noise at Linda was a huge concern for nearby neighbors. The highly contested Salter noise study has not settled the issue at all.

  2. While the Sep 5 Staff Report did not include the following as an action item, Council wants a future discussion based on the July 19 Recreation Commission recommendation item 8: “A future Commission Tennis and Pickleball subcommittee should be formed to review the possibility of reservations, court fees, and rules.” We look forward to that discussion.

    The critical decision in 2019 for pickleball open play in Piedmont rather than a tennis type decal/reservation system has fundamentally driven both the positive vibe and success of Piedmont Pickleball (“PPB”). Many appeared before the Recreation Commission speaking of the welcoming nature of PPB. A strict tennis type decal and reservation system will fundamentally alter and deteriorate PPB.

    Tennis type reservation systems are used in Berkeley and Oakland and have created serious use issues for pickleball. Berkeley installed a reservation system at Cedar-Rose Pickleball specifically to reduce court use. Through much community input one court is being returned to open play. Oakland’s Bushrod Park requires the one tennis court with four pickleball striped courts be reserved. People donate and there is no reservation system. Open play works brilliantly there. At the converted Montclair Youth Tennis Court the previous Oakland Tennis Pro, not a fan of pickleball, installed a tennis type reservation system. Commonly understood is there are long waits at Montclair and many avoid that venue. Alameda’s Lincoln Park was open play until a reservation system was tried several years ago. It was dropped because of all the issues it created.

    Open play is critical for PPB as it is elsewhere. Reservations works and is needed for tennis. Pickleball is not tennis physically, fundamentally or culturally and pickleball is hurt by reservations.

    • Sounds like there’s a lot experience with reservation systems for the subcommittee to investigate. Several speakers at Monday’s Council meeting spoke of the limited times at which they could play because of work schedules. Another speaker said she walked away after waiting 20 minutes to play just a 15 minute game of pickleball. A reservation system for the afternoons and weekends would facilitate their access to the courts and eliminate wait times. I doubt this would affect the PPB “vibe” which as I understand it occurs between 10:00 and 2:00. Just reservations, no fees or decals required. I frequently drive by the Montclair courts – I see them fully used but not with the crowds standing around waiting as I see at Linda.

      • There are no crowds waiting at the Montclair courts because, as I stated, players avoid those courts because the courts are all reserved. The “vibe” of open play is the mixing of players of all ages and demographics. Reservation system means same players play with the same players each time and others who wish to mix in are excluded.

        • I appreciate the inclusiveness but sone people just want to get a workout in. And have limited time because of work. From what I see on the web, the PB movement has a vast network for meeting new players. The flip side to open play is that the regulars control the resource and conditions of use. Seems counterintuitive to not introduce sone kind of registration for a finite resource with growing demand. As you note, some cities have open play and reserved courts at the same facility. The subcommittee should look into this and dual use.

  3. If I’m not mistaken, I think you are misquoting Jeff Nguyen. I recall he previously stated he can’t usually can’t play UNTIL after 6:00 and wanted play hours until 8:00. That’s where a reservation system could really help. Works for tennis, why not pickleball?

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