No pickleball lines on second Rec Center basketball court after proposal fails at La Jolla CRG meeting

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group debated adding pickleball lines to the Recreation Center's west basketball court.
The La Jolla Community Recreation Group debated adding pickleball lines to the west basketball court at the Recreation Center. The east court already has them.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Community Recreation Group members disagree over whether the needs of children or older adults are being adequately met.


A proposal to stripe a second basketball court with pickleball lines at the La Jolla Recreation Center failed Dec. 7 at a virtual meeting of the Community Recreation Group, which oversees the Rec Center.

The motion died for lack of a second after a spirited discussion about how different groups use the center.

The Rec Center, at 615 Prospect St., has two basketball courts. The east court currently is striped with lines that create two pickleball courts.

Pickleball is a popular paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong.

In February, the CRG held off on Rec Center director Nicholas Volpe’s request to add lines for pickleball on the west basketball court, pending an accounting of the court’s usage during the summer.

CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said demand for pickleball is high at the Rec Center and that one court striped for it isn’t enough.

There are often “up to 30 people there who want to play pickleball and they have to tape the lines on the [west] court,” she said.

She said a private donor would pay for the striping.

Coakley Munk said pickleball players mostly are at the Rec Center on weekday mornings, when children who might want to play basketball are in school.

But Volpe said “the pickleball numbers have dwindled as of late. It’s not necessarily always 30 people and they haven’t been taping any lines on the second court.”

Coakley Munk said the numbers probably have decreased “because it’s pretty frustrating to be out there and have to wait an hour to get on a court. Those are senior citizens [who] desperately need their exercise and we should be as concerned about them as we are about the kids.”

CRG member Jan Harris said “we’re preventing people from playing pickleball” by not having lines on the second court.

Coakley Munk suggested that more rules be created for joint pickleball/basketball use.

The current rule is that court use is first-come, first-served, Volpe said, and that will remain the rule as long as only one basketball court is striped for pickleball.

More rules would come “if we were to open a second court and we needed clarification and guidance on how that second court and those lines are going to be utilized,” Volpe said.

CRG member Alan Dulgeroff argued against striping the second basketball court for pickleball.

“Most of the material upgrades … have been very focused on adults and seniors,” he said. “And I think we need to … really ask ourselves how well are all the park users represented here on this board and through our advocacy?”

As children don’t have cars, they’re confined to the Rec Center, Dulgeroff said, whereas seniors have the mobility to play pickleball elsewhere.

Coakley Munk said adults in La Jolla are often working long hours and donating their time to the community. “They don’t have a lot of time to be out driving around, and there’s not a lot of places you can go play pickleball that are available.”

The Community Recreation Group meets Dec. 7 online.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

It’s “the Rec Center’s job to make sure that we, in our very limited facilities, provide the maximum opportunities for the maximum spread of ages,” she said.

But CRG member Jon Wiggins said “the 60-plus leisure-class La Jollans ... are the most overrepresented people that live here. … So we are absolutely not representing the kids in this community.”

There’s been a rise in adults bullying children off the courts, said Dulgeroff, who added that more pickleball lines would increase the potential for such bullying.

“There’s a high likelihood that those kids that want to play basketball are going to get pushed to the side,” he said. “Until there’s more respect and kindness that can be demonstrated by some of the adults here, I just think there’s too much risk of kids getting pushed and bossed around.”

Stephanie Jernigan, a La Jolla resident with children who use the Rec Center, told the La Jolla Light after the meeting that her son has been bullied by an adult on the Rec Center courts a few times and that the bully got “really aggressive” when Jernigan stepped in.

“It needs to end,” she said. “Our kids should have a safe place to play.”

Dulgeroff said at the meeting that understaffing at the Rec Center means city staff members are not always able to enforce rules for court use and mediate disagreements.

Xavier Richey, who coaches children’s basketball at the Rec Center and said he’s there daily, said the pickleball lines on the east court confuse younger children who are trying to learn to play basketball. He asked the CRG to keep the west basketball court clear of pickleball lines.

“Preserving at least one basketball court that doesn’t have [pickleball] lines will allow for them to do better teaching and not confuse the young kids,” Dulgeroff said.

But CRG member Jan Harris said courts at gyms usually are “multi-lined with probably five or six different games. And yes, maybe it is more confusing, but it serves a whole lot more people that way.”

Coakley Munk said she used to teach physical education and “I don’t see kids not being able to figure that out. I think that’s probably one of the poorest arguments.”

Harris’ motion to add pickleball striping to the west court failed.

Coakley Munk, as chairwoman, could not make the motion or provide a second for it.

Other CRG news

Christmas parade after-party: The CRG will consider presenting an event following next year’s La Jolla Christmas Parade, which will customarily end at the Rec Center.

Coakley Munk there was a Rec Center event after the parade years ago.

“It was packed,” CRG member Jill Peters said of past events, which had food vendors and family activities. “A lot of people ended up hanging out there. It’s a really nice community event that should come back.”

CRG members Wiggins and his wife, Karen, along with Dulgeroff, said they would be happy to help plan an event for next year.

New classes: Volpe said the Rec Center will begin offering a karate program in January, along with cooking classes for adults focusing on Mediterranean and Filipino cuisine.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, online. To learn more, call (858) 552-1658. ◆