A proposed San Francisco city initiative has outraged pickleballers in the area. It aims to repurpose half of the existing 12 public pickleball courts at The Presidio Wall Playground, converting them back into tennis courts.
A Strong Reaction
This has triggered a strong reaction from the dedicated pickleball players at Presidio Wall. In response to the potential reduction, these players are contemplating “pickle protests” and “pickle disobedience.”
Adding to their discontent, the parks department has called for the removal of crowd-funded pickleball nets from the courts by the end of the week.
The suddenness of these requests, outlined in an email shared with the local pickleball community and posted on pickleballsf.com, has caught the local players off guard. The decision follows months of attempts to address noise complaints from neighboring homeowners bothered by the sound of pickleballs in their upscale backyards.
Protesters rallied recently in Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side of New York after reports of anti-semitism caused escalating tension among the pickleball community.
We reported how tensions escalated in August when a Presidio Heights resident, Holly Peterson, claimed that the constant noise of pickleballs near her $36 million home impeded its sale. Ironically, Peterson’s property featured its own pickleball court.
Mary Hickey, a volunteer pickleball instructor and Bay Area ambassador for USA Pickleball at Presidio Wall was frustrated at the lack of dialogue between the city, homeowners, and the pickleball community. She emphasized the absence of discussion:
“That’s what’s really getting people. No discussion. No anything,” she said. “I thought we had a democracy where we discuss things.”
Failed To Conduct Adequate Outreach
Pickleball proponents at Presidio Wall argue that the parks department failed to conduct adequate outreach before announcing the decision.
The affected courts will be transformed into “tennis only,” effectively reducing the number of pickleball courts at Presidio Wall by half.
The San Francisco Pickleball Community press release on Monday outlined this change.
Pickleball Played Outside Designated Hours
The parks department’s email, dated Sunday, stated that lines on courts three and four, facing West Pacific Avenue, would be removed in winter or spring “due to extensive use of those courts during hours not designated for pickleball.”
The email also asked “the community to remove their unpermitted rolling nets from courts 3 & 4” by Friday, January 18th.
Communications Manager Daniel Montes explained that the city is striving to meet the ever-increasing demand for new playing space:
“Pickleball is a fast-growing sport, and Rec and Park is trying to accommodate the demand for new courts as quickly as we can while also balancing the needs of other sports communities,” he said.
“We’re continuing to provide accommodations for this sport and come up with solutions that work for everyone.”
A Substantial Increase In Pickleball Courts
Montes highlighted San Francisco’s substantial increase in public pickleball courts over the past five years, reaching over 80, including 63 outdoor courts.
He added the department is “working closely with the Pickleball Working Group to identify new locations” and that the city plans to convert more tennis courts to pickleball in the near future.
Plans are also underway to add pickleball lines to repaved tennis courts and convert more tennis courts to pickleball.
The Recreation and Park Department announced the addition of six new pickleball courts at Moscone Park Playground in the Marina, with plans to open them in the spring.
A Lack Of Public Forums
Despite acknowledging the department’s efforts to balance the access for tennis and pickleball players, the San Francisco Pickleball Community criticized the lack of public forums for the Presidio Wall neighborhood, urging the department to delay changes until proper notification and outreach occur.
In response to the threatened court removal, pickleball enthusiasts initiated an online petition with over 600 signatures, urging Rec and Parks to reconsider and put a halt to any changes to the Presidio Wall courts “until a proper neighborhood notification and outreach process has been conducted.”
The pickleball community plans to voice their concerns at a Recreation and Park Commission meeting on Thursday. It is prepared for peaceful demonstrations, labeled “pickle disobedience” by Hickey, if the decision is not reversed.
“Everybody’s on alert that pickle protests are very much of a possibility,” she said.
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