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Several people have asked about the 9/8 Monterey PRC meeting, so, here is a summary.


The meeting began with the City staff providing a history of pickleball play at Via Paraiso. It was a thorough overview of the past several years. I found it interesting that they mentioned the approval, from about 2 years ago, for restriping the VP courts from 4 PB courts to 6 courts -- and they also mentioned that, to date, this work has not been completed. As to be expected, the overview focused on chronological facts and did not mention the contentious issues. Those issuers were left for the public comment section which followed.


The public comment session began with comments from those attending in-person followed by those on Zoom. The MVNA representatives presented the issues from their side first. These largely focused on noise levels, parking, and picklball players from outside of the community. Members of the pickleball community spoke next followed by intermingled comments from both sides. Approximately 10 pickleball players were in the Council chambers to speak in favor of pickleball and several others commented from Zoom. I found all of the 3-minute speeches from pickleball supporters to be excellent. There were some terrific stories detailing how pickleball has improved their lives. I thought people from both sides were passionate but respectful. Thanks again to everyone that took time out of their busy schedules to attend this meeting.


The commissioners also mentioned that they received 32 letters on the topic, but, did not indicate the break down. I was CC'd on about 10 letters so I'm sure that more than half of the letters were in support of pickleball. Like the in-person speeches, some of the letters I read were excellent. Thanks again for taking the time to write those letters.


After the public comment section, the commissioners held discussions amongst themselves. There was not much back-and-forth about the issues. None of them indicated if they supported the residents or the players. In my opinion, it was pretty clear that all the commissioners were well versed in the issues from both sides and no further discussions were necessary to work through their understanding or beliefs. Instead, they jumped straight into possible solutions. Those that I remember include:

  • Acoustical Screening -- City staff is supposed to follow up with a cost estimate, however, discussions concluded this is likely a non-starter due to visibility concerns from the police (ie it's difficult for law enforcement to see into the courts).

  • Quiet Paddles and Balls -- After a brief discussion, they concluded that this is unenforceable.

  • Adding PB Striping to Other Courts in Monterey -- This is the first I've heard PRC mention this. They suggested that the City should consider putting pickleball lines on all tennis courts in the City. They didn't get into specifics, but, I believe the City staff is supposed to follow up with a cost estimate.

  • Mediation -- This was the bulk of the commission's discussion. It's pretty clear that they don't want to take a side and they prefer for the players and residents to work this out themselves. They proposed that the two sides take advantage of some free mediation services available locally and even agreed that 1 or 2 PRC commissioners could sit in on the discussions. Note that mediation was proposed by the Monterey City Manager several months ago, and at that time, the MVNA board voted not to participate in mediation.

In the end, no specific decision was made with regards to pickleball play at VP, and therefore, pickleball will continue in it's current state for now.


A few other notes about the PRC discussions:

  • I don't recall any discussions about reducing pickleball play time or the number of pickleball courts.

  • When pickleball first came to VP, there were significant objections from the tennis community but the commissioners appear to be satisfied that those issues are resolved. Nobody from the tennis community spoke against pickleball during the public comment section.

  • One of the commissioners made a strong statement about bringing this to a close. Clearly, he understands the public wants a decision in this matter. That said, by the end of the meeting there was no definitive plan to get to a decision.

  • The PRC reiterated their support for a 6 court dedicate pickleball facility, possibly located at Ryan Ranch. It's clear to me that they really want this to happen because it's a win-win for the players and residents and address the future growth of pickleball. But, money remains the issue.

After the meeting, some of us in attendance met with representatives from MVNA. They were very nice and respectful and I think our discussions with them were more beneficial than the PRC meeting. We had cordial discussions of the issues and possible solutions. We indicated that we were open to mediation while they said they needed to follow up with their board to see if the inclusion of PRC reps in mediation would change their minds. Apparently the lack of PRC participation was a key issue for them when mediation was originally proposed by the city manager. They also indicated willingness to support us in our quest for a permanent facility. Monterey has a system were local communities within the city can decide how park and rec funds are allocated. So, support from MVNA could be quite helpful.


- Michael Lang

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The City of Monterey has confirmed that people can attend the Wednesday 9/8 Parks & Rec Commission meeting in person.


Several people have asked if they can attend the meeting in person and the answer is "Yes". Covid protocols are in place, so, masks will be required during the meeting. The meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers located at:

  • 580 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA

On Pacific Street, this is the white building with the big brown double doors located beyond the large lawn. Parking is available in a lot behind the building. See images below.


The Zoom meeting remains available, so, please use whichever option is most convenient for you. We hope you can make it! And if you can't, please consider sending a short letter of pickleball support to parksrecreationcommission@monterey.org.


Thanks!


Michael Lang






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On Wednesday September 8 at 5:30 pm, the Monterey Parks and Rec Commission will meet to discuss the fate of pickleball at Via Paraiso park. Please read on for important information.


As you know, the Monterey Bay Pickleball Club has not been playing at Via Paraiso despite the lifting of Covid restrictions. The MBPC board decided not to resume Club play pending the resolution of neighbor complaints about play at VP. For a couple of years, the City has been trying to strike a balance between the neighbors and pickleball enthusiasts. It seems this may soon be coming to a head.


I am writing this post to encourage you to attend the Monterey Parks and Rec virtual Zoom meeting on Wed 9/8 at 5:30 pm. Monte Vista neighborhood residents that support pickleball are especially encouraged to attend.


The Monte Vista Neighborhood Association (MVNA), which includes Via Paraiso park, has now joined with the local residents in their concern about pickleball at VP. They have written a couple of letters to the City outlining several concerns and proposed various actions to the City.


Their primary complaints are:

  • Unacceptable noise levels

  • Loss of parking

  • Park use by 'non-community' members

Among their proposed actions are:

  • Elimination of pickleball courts

  • Instituting a reservation system and charging for court use

  • Removal of the storage locker which holds our nets and balls

They have also submitted a petition to the city with many signatures supporting their stance.


As an organization dedicated to the support of pickleball on the Monterey Peninsula, the MBPC board has been in communication with the city regarding the neighbor concerns. We have submitted a letter to the City outlining the benefits of pickleball and we have also submitted a petition including the signatures of many Monterey residents in support of pickleball at VP.


In the spirit of cooperation, the MBPC board has been working with the city to reduce our footprint on VP. We have:

  • Agreed to stop Saturday club play

  • Agreed to avoid parking in the north lot especially when summer programs are in session

  • Promote the use of quiet paddles and balls

  • Limit club play to the posted pickleball priority times

At the request of the City, we also agreed to mediation with the Monte Vista Neighborhood Association. However, the MVNA voted not to participate.


As a result, this dispute remained in hibernation during the Covid shutdown. But, the City is now ready to reopen the case.


The meeting will be held on Zoom. You can find information on the meeting here and the full meeting packet can be downloaded here. The packet includes letters and petitions from both MVNA and MBPC. If you cannot attend but would like to voice support for pickleball, you can do so by emailing parksrecreationcommission@monterey.org until ½ hour before the start of the meeting.


Whether you participate in MBPC activities or prefer playing pickleball in your own circles, we hope that you will consider attending the meeting to help preserve our limited court resources.


Here are a few suggestions about the PRC meeting:

  • If you want to speak, BE POSITIVE! We have cultivated a good relationship with the City and we don't want to say anything that would jeopardize that.

  • Please do not debate the MVNA position even if their statements are incorrect. Rather, please talk about what pickleball means to you and how it has affected your life. Again, we have tried to compromise with the MVNA and the City appreciates that. If we argue, then it negatively impacts our standing.

  • Please avoid speaking about tourists or other people from out of the area playing at Via Paraiso. This is an especially inflammatory topic for the neighbors.

  • You do not need to speak. At some point in the meeting, we may ask for a show of hands of those supporting pickleball and you can raise your hand at that time.

  • My understanding is that the meeting begins with general public comment. This is not us. This section of public comment is for topics not on the agenda. Pickleball is on the agenda. Next, there will be a presentation on the state of City programs. The pickleball discussion will follow that. It will open with a brief presentation about pickleball from the City staff, then public comment will begin. We estimate that public comment on pickleball will begin around 6pm. Each person may be limited to 3 minutes for public comment. When everyone that wants to speak has spoken, the Commissioners will open their discussion. Typically, there is no opportunity for further public comment once the Commissioners start their discussion.

If you plan to attend, please email michaelalang@comcast.net indicating that you will join and whether or not you think you would like to speak. We are just trying to gauge how many people may be in attendance.


Here are the instructions for joining the meeting (see also the City link above).


Regards,


Michael Lang

MBPC Secretary

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