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