On April 23, the Cerritos City Council hosted an audience of devout pickleballers trying to secure a permanent playing courts at . But after a lengthy discussion, the council came to the conclusion of allotting pickleball playtime at , while making sure the pickleball court and equipment at is tended to and provided by the park's staff.
Finding A Home for Local Picklers
. Wiffle balls, in place of tennis balls, are hit by wooden paddles instead of racquets. Branded a sport that is intergenerationally friendly (with local player ages ranging from 6 to men and women in their 70s), pickleball is rising in popularity amongst Cerritos residents due to its ease of play and easy learning curve. Additionally, players (also called picklers) have praised it for its forgiving nature on aging bodies.
First presented at the Feb. 2 Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the concept of removing the Westgate Park tennis court to house pickleball caused a frenzy amongst nearby residents. Residents complained of noise issues and high traffic during pickleball playing, while others were concerned with the lack of a tennis court available to frequent tennis players. Despite the resident outcry, the commission voted 3-2 on replacing the tennis court with four pickleball courts.
Several local pickleball players attended the meeting alongside Kit Snider, a Cerritos resident since 1966, who is responsible for the emergence of the city's pickleball community. Setting up temporary netting at Liberty Park, Snider organizes games on a regular basis, while also lending out nets for families to play on their own time. Snider is also an advocate for senior pickleball players.
“While pickleball is an intergenerational sport, seniors are really driving the popularity of pickleball,” Snider said. “We have more time and can play at our leisure. A dedicated pickleball court would allow seniors and our other residents to play pickleball at any time during the day or into the evening. If the seniors can Zumba, they can play pickleball.”
Cerritos resident, Jonathan Cordero, said he has met people he now considers his close friends during his time playing pickleball, and that the community of picklers is welcoming of all players no matter the age or skill level.
“I am getting older,” Cordero said. “My kids are 6 and 4. I would like to teach them how to play pickleball. When I was younger, I played pickleball with my dad, and those are my fondest memories. I think it would be great to still be agile and have them play.”
However, Westgate Park's neighborhood residents did not share the same sentiments as the picklers. Many expressed concern that taking away the tennis court would be inconsiderate to the local tennis players who utilize the courts on a regular basis.
“I live on the same street as, probably, some of the best tennis players at Mayfair High School, so it would be disappointing to lose the tennis court, because I've grown up with it my whole life,” said Matthew Taylor, a member of the Mayfair High tennis team who lives near Westgate Park.
Bill Cole, who lives directly across from the park, said he has collected a list of residents who object to taking away the tennis court. He suggested the council conduct a study on how much the tennis courts are used, and also added that the high traffic in the park causes safety concerns. Other residents have reported high traffic and noise due to local basketball players using the park as well.
“It's a very unsafe condition,” Cole said. “In a lot of parks they take the kiddie section and they put it back away from the street. They do that for safety. At this particular park, it's about 30 feet away from these parked cars. Kids run across the street between these cars. We've found bodies in the park. We've had people hit. We've had animals hit. We've had a death at the end of the street from racing.”
Councilwoman Carol Chen brought to the attention the cost of actually installing pickleball courts, which could rage from as low as $5,000 or as high as $40,000. Pointing out that, although this would satisfy a group of Cerritos residents, other residents with neighborhood concerns would be left out.
“The city needs to look at all costs and all expenditure, and evaluate where we spend our money,” Chen said. “I understand the concerns and interests of having a dedicated court, but there are also other residents in the communities that are asking for other things within our parks and recs programs.”
After a long night of discussion, the city council voted 5-0 on the option of providing pickleball playtime at Whitney High School, as well as having Liberty Park staff provide netting for pickleball play instead of residents taking the responsibility upon themselves.
The council honored Jesse Cheng, Director of Constituent Services for Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and . Both have been active in Cerritos for many years, but are leaving their current positions to pursue new career oppurtunities – Gaughen, specifically, .
The council approved the consideration and adoption of the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS) of the city of Cerritos, as Successor Agency to the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency, for the period beginning July 1, 2012, to conform with Health and Safety Code Sections 3.
The next city council meeting will be held on Thursday, May 10.