Home News Pickleball courts in Milpitas cause concern for residents

Pickleball courts in Milpitas cause concern for residents

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Pickleball courts in Milpitas cause concern for residents

Milpitas residents are in a pickle over whether the city should keep operating its Hall Memorial Park pickleball courts.

Noticing a growing number of local players, Milpitas launched a pilot program last year that temporarily converted two existing Hall tennis courts into pickleball courts. At a recent meeting, the City Council discussed making the change permanent, a move that has players excited but residents living near the park concerned about pickleball-related noise and traffic issues.

“There really aren’t many sports a person my age can participate in to stay active,” said Steven Balsbaugh, a 79-year-old avid pickleball player who wants the courts to stay. “You get to establish new relationships with people and stay active. They’re qualities that any city should love to encourage in residents.”

Temporary courts were also installed at Peter Gil Memorial Park under the program, though Hall is the more popular destination and can have up to 70 people waiting at a time to use the space, Balsbaugh said.

But Kimberley Vo, who lives across from Hall Memorial, which is located in the suburbs on La Honda Drive east of Highway I-880, wants the nearby courts gone. Since the program started, Vo and other local residents have experienced traffic issues related to the large influx of players, including cars blocking their driveways and drivers making illegal turns on the street. People are also playing every morning and evening, Vo said, and their racket noises are a nuisance.

“I wear ear plugs (at home) or have shows running in the background to drown out the noise,” she said. “It’s pretty irksome.”

Vo, along with 40 nearby households, recently signed and sent a petition requesting the city abandon any plans of making the pickleball courts permanent. They would rather have the courts revert back to tennis which had lower noise levels and fewer users.

At their mid-March meeting, the council allowed the pilot program to remain in place for now, but asked staff to move forward with finding ways to better address noise concerns and safety precautions, including adding noise dampening screens at the courts, according to Renee Lorentzen, the city’s director of Recreation and Community Services.

“The community process is important, and our City Council places importance on and considers the viewpoints of its residents as they provide direction to city staff and make policy decisions,” Lorentzen said in a statement.  “Much of the council direction was in response to the park residents’ concerns about noise and parking. Recreation and Community Services will continue to work with the police department and Public Works Department to help assess parking and speed concerns, as well as the noise.”

A paddle sport combining elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball can be played by four people on designated courts or tennis courts. The activity has taken the country, including California, by storm.

The number of players has increased by 158.6% over three years, with 8.9 million participants in 2022, according to a report from the 2023 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), a trade association for top manufacturers and retailers in the country’s sporting goods and fitness industry. The average participant’s age is 35, with the 25 to 34 age group having the most players. The 18 to 24 and 65+ age groups are tied for the second-highest participation, the report states.

With more than 700 places to play, California has more pickleball courts then any other state. According to the report, California will need to build 3,748 courts at a projected cost of $131.2 million to keep up with demand over the next five to seven years. In the Bay Area, new courts have been established in dozens of cities, including Cupertino, Morgan Hill and Los Gatos.



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