Letter to the Editor | Rec Commission ignored some data in making pickleball court recommendation

The Recreation Commission report on pickleball relied on four, for lack of a better term, datasets to come to its recommendation for converting the Linda-Beach tennis courts to dedicated pickleball courts. 

First, data for the five tennis facilities in town showed that Linda Beach had the least amount of annual reservations (1700+) so it was the “best use” of these two courts to have them converted to pickleball. 

Second, south-bound traffic data on Linda Avenue was used to estimate that 4-7 vehicles would be added to the area per hour by pickleball. 

Third, sound data was used to show that noise generated during the pickleball trial did not exceed a noise standard of 70 dB referred to in the General Plan. 

The fourth dataset, an online survey conducted during the trial (810 responses), seems not to have been considered by the Subcommittee or City Council in their decisions about pickleball. The report did not contain a discussion of this data and presented it in a way that obscures the conclusion that the greatest number of users of the courts during the trial were non-residents. 

When non-residents’ use numbers (not presented in the report, highlighted below) are determined, non-residents played pickleball more than residents before (186 vs. 180) and after (320 to 279) the trial.  The differences are not remarkable but are probably greater than the survey shows; the survey was mostly distributed through a Piedmont Recreation Department distribution list and the city website so the numbers captured by the survey are likely biased for residents.

The numbers also show that the greatest increase in users during the trial was among non-residents (186 to 320).  This should be a trend that the Recreation Department tracks as, with open play, it will become more difficult for residents to get onto these courts. The city should adopt a reservation system for weekday and weekend afternoons so Piedmonters can schedule this activity into their busy schedules.

One thought on “Letter to the Editor | Rec Commission ignored some data in making pickleball court recommendation

  1. Adding more information to the points above regarding the City’s decision to convert the Linda Beach courts to pickleball only: 1. Usage: the City’s usage analysis did not reflect the fact (acknowledged by PRD) that one of the two courts has been unplayable for years — if the City had adjusted its analysis accordingly, usage for tennis at Linda Beach is comparable to other City courts; 2. Traffic: the estimate of the City’s traffic consultant of an additional 4-7 vehicles per hour was based on an estimate of 5-10 players at the courts; however, last summer more than 30 players at a time regularly showed up at the courts, suggesting more than 20 additional vehicles (the courts are adjacent to a tot lot and Beach Elementary School); 3. Noise: the “acceptable” noise level in Piedmont’s General Plan is actually 60 db; however, City Code 12.8, “Noise Declared Nuisance” does not reference the General Plan (which is typically used for zoning purposes and is based on a 24-hour average) or specify a decibel level. The City received multiple comments regarding the insufficiency of its noise study, which ignored the unique impulsive qualities of pickleball that have been documented and analyzed by multiple acoustics experts who have recommended against locating pickleball courts adjacent to homes.

    The City’s decision to allow pickleball from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays unfairly places the burden of adverse noise impacts on adjacent residents many of whom are seniors who have lived in their homes for decades.

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