Proposal for more pickleball striping at La Jolla Recreation Center succeeds on second try
The Community Recreation Group narrowly supports placing new lines for two pickleball courts on the west basketball court to match the east court. The idea failed in December.
A renewed proposal to stripe a second basketball court with pickleball lines at the La Jolla Recreation Center narrowly passed at the Jan. 25 meeting of the La Jolla Community Recreation Group, which oversees the center.
The motion was made a month after the proposal initially failed 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 courts for pickleball, a popular paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong.
At the Dec. 7 CRG meeting, board members Alan Dulgeroff and Jon Wiggins argued against adding lines on the west court, citing reports of pickleball players bullying children who wanted to play basketball.
The current rule is that court use is first come, first served.
The CRG revisited the discussion Jan. 25, with dozens of pickleball players attending the online meeting via Zoom to lend their support to striping the west court.
Marie Harrington, a La Jolla resident who organizes pickleball games at the Rec Center via an app, presented information on why the pickleball players — who she said number 100 to 300 — need both basketball courts lined for pickleball.
“We have eight sessions every week,” Harrington said, noting that those who don’t use the app are also welcome to play.
She said players often have to wait a long time to play pickleball due to its popularity and lack of more courts.
Ten other members of the public offered additional support, including Mark Schilling, who said: “There’s clearly a need for more courts so that people don’t feel like they have to wait forever to get their turn to play. … Sometimes it’s so crowded that people go somewhere else.”
Julia Zheng, a sixth-grader at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, said she also likes to play pickleball and is hoping for more courts.
Pickleball player Ann Dynes said “the use of the basketball courts in the morning is almost non-existent, but is very heavy by the kids, especially, in the afternoons and on the weekends.”
Dulgeroff said it’s “very clear that there could be a lot of tension created by groups” and that there isn’t enough Rec Center staff to enforce rules or deal with conflict.
“There’s definitely bullying and tension that’s occurring already,” Dulgeroff said. “I’ve witnessed it myself.”
A parent volunteer for her son’s basketball team of 5- to 7-year-olds says teenage boys have repeatedly ridden their bikes through the team’s practices while laughing, making rude gestures and taking basketballs away.
He expressed concern that the failed motion from December reappeared this month. “I think … after the board has considered something, put forth a motion, the issue dies there for the foreseeable future.”
People who oppose the new lines and didn’t know the proposal would be discussed again weren’t able to give their opinions this time, Dulgeroff said.
Wiggins said a “widely circulated email” including CRG board members and members of the public discussed the lines and potential priority rules and said the email discussion might violate the Brown Act, the state’s open-meetings law.
The issue “was vetted offline with a quorum,” Dulgeroff added. “So I think the board needs to step back and look at this from a procedural and ethical issue before they decide to proceed.”
Wiggins agreed that the Rec Center “doesn’t have the staff to enforce rules. And the kids that are here in La Jolla, this is the only place they have to go. [They] are only in school 180 days a year, so that means there’s 185 days they’re not at school” and need someplace to play.
Wiggins added that home-schooled kids use the courts for PE on weekday mornings.
CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said “every other community is able to manage figuring out how to make this work. I agree that the Rec Center is for children, but it’s also for all ages. And the elderly people … need to have the opportunity to use the facility to exercise just as well.”
She added that pickleball players would pay for the new lines being placed.
Board member Jan Harris said there isn’t unlimited space at the Rec Center and “I don’t see how we can justify not striping these courts for pickleball when they sit unused many hours of the week.”
A motion to approve lines for two pickleball courts on the west basketball court and create rules and signage for their use passed 4-3, with Dulgeroff, Wiggins and board member Karen Wiggins opposed. Munk abstained, as is customary for the chair.
Anna Sonnenburg, district manager for the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, said she will discuss the CRG meeting with the department team.
“We then move forward to make sure this is a good decision for us as a whole in the community,” she said. “Once we do that, we will discuss with you the ways of how donations work and moving forward.”
Sonnenburg was unable to clarify a timeline or who would be involved in the decision-making.
Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, likely online. To learn more, call (858) 552-1658. ◆
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