First published in the April 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The city of La Cañada Flintridge again showed its commitment to the pickleball community, which is largely comprised of seniors, by extending a program that allows fans of the sport — which combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis — to continue playing at Glenhaven Park.
After several public comments from both residents against the program and pickleball enthusiasts, the City Council ultimately voted, 3-2, against staff’s recommendation and extended the program for another nine months.
Mayor Terry Walker and councilmember Rick Gunter were opposed to prolonging the program, which has been a contentious issue between the park’s neighbors and pickleball players.
“For a number of reasons, we’ve discussed back and forth that the folks who play pickleball have a chance to go somewhere else and maybe find somewhere to play; the people that live there have nowhere else to go,” Gunter said. “… We published it to the world at large that this is a pilot and now we’re moving the goal post, and that doesn’t seem fair.”
Though supportive of the sport, Walker agreed with her colleague and felt that community-building around the sport should not be at the expense of the surrounding neighborhood.
“We gave it a shot. We hoped it would work out, but it’s been very difficult on the neighbors, and I think it would be irresponsible of us to disregard that,” Walker said.
Residents pleaded with the council to terminate the pickleball program at Glenhaven Park because of the noise associated with the sport.
A small group of residents hired an acoustical engineer to study the sound at the park when pickleball players were present, and a father and son claim to have been diagnosed with tinnitus because of the noise.
“I really don’t understand why you’re not listening to your constituents, our voices, our concerns, our health issues that have arisen since the pickleball pilot started,” resident Danielle Meeker told the council.
Mayor Pro Tem Keith Eich said the Parks and Recreation Commission “got it right” by recommending the program continue and felt that consistency of days and time was a good compromise.
Councilman Jonathan Curtis echoed his colleague and added that, though it was a difficult decision, it was best to go with what the commission originally decided.
“Our general plan is full of policies and things that we should be doing for seniors, and guess what? It just hasn’t happened yet,” Curtis said. “We’re on that cusp as far as getting something that actually works for seniors and that, of course, is pickleball and the question becomes the impact on the neighbors. It’s really a tough call, but that was designed as a park. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have this particular pickleball use until we can establish a permanent use.”
Walker asked Councilman Mike Davitt to amend his motion and allow pickleball from 9 a.m. to Monday through Thursday as opposed to five days a week, a revision that he, along with Eich and Curtis, agreed to.
Curtis said he hopes that the nine-month extension of the program will expedite the design and construction of pickleball courts at Mayors’ Discovery Park. The council previously agreed that the park was the best location in the city to create permanent pickleball courts.