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Cerritos City Council Finds Ways to Accomodate Pickleball Play in Community

The Cerritos City Council tried its best to give pickleball players a home while making sure residents near Westgate Park don't lose their tennis court.

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.

Additional News

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.

Katherine George Chu April 30, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Thank you for covering this @Patch. This past year my son left Special Olympics to try his hand at general city sports. Pickleball seemed like the most logical transition because of the size of the court and ease playing. Turned out to be a great social activity. The pickleball players welcomed him and another adult with special needs. We made due with the chalked, temporary lines at West Gate even though this wasn't ideal for those with perceptual challenges.The other players made up for it by being a little more relaxed when calling the ball "In" or "out" for these players. Now we have been moved over to Liberty Park where the pickleball court is not enclosed. The lines are painted, along with a few other court markers. I visited the court yesterday to see if my son can manage it. The pickleball players on the court told me it's a bit windy and so they're compensating by switching sides every other game to make it fair. We also have the track surrounding the court where people are running. Since these particular players are still learning, hopefully they won't be discouraged having to chase after the ball without a fence to stop it. I understand Whitney will not be available until late June. We are trying to make it work. I think the city should try to make an effort to make sports more accessible for those with special needs not up the challenges until we are forced to drop out. Right now, we're ready to hang in until we find a more suitable location.
Katherine George Chu April 30, 2012 at 05:45 PM
also as of yesterday, the coach and another player were still setting up their own netting.
Jay Gray May 01, 2012 at 01:13 AM
The city council has given MILLIONS of dollars to the auto center and mall yet they cannot afford a few thousand dollars to build a couple of pickleball courts in our city parks? And for Carol Chen to complain about the expense after using city staff to assist in her recent trip to China is hypocrisy.
Carissa Cordero May 01, 2012 at 05:08 AM
As I recall, the petition signed by almost 200 Westgate residents asked that the court have lines for both tennis & pickleball. There were at least a dozen people who spoke for permanent pickleball lines at Westgate. Yet the council didn't make a decision that is cohesive with what Cerritos residents want. Very dissapointing. I did think Council member Pulido had some good ideas. However, Council member Cho seemed short sighted. He constantly reiterated that creating a pickleball court in Cerritos would draw players from surrounding cities. Is that really a bad thing? Maybe players from other cities would grab a bite to eat before playing pickleball in Cerritos. That just increased $ spent in our city. Maybe players from other cities might run some errands before playing pickleball in Cerritos. That also would bring some more $ to stores in Cerritos. Council member Chen said the city couldn't spend $ on a court conversion. But what if the city ran some pickleball classes through the Parks & Rec dept. Wouldn't that make the city some $? I hope the picklers keep at it and find a suitable permanent home. The motto is, "Parks make life better!", not, "Parks: don't use them except what their intended for & don't ask for improvements".
Jay Gray May 01, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Carissa makes some excellent observations. The idea that pickle ball courts drawing in people from outside Cerritos being a bad thing? Really now, seems like a rather lame excuse (by the city council) not to do something the residents of Cerritos want. The fact is council is not about it's citizens, but about business. The CCPA looses millions each year. We have sidewalks that are damaged by city trees throughout the city. The council gave $5 Million to help with the recent mall upgrade. The council lost nearly $100 MILLION of city money by loaning it to the RDA. The list goes on. Yet, the council has cut city programs for residents. We had library hours cut over the years. Some community parks have "the Club" locked on the basketball rims after 6PM (see Frontier park as one example). Again, the list goes on. Can anyone honestly say, the city council acting in the best interest of it's residents?
Kit Snider May 01, 2012 at 08:51 PM
"Let us then, be up and doing. With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The City Council has heard us and they know that we are still out here. I have faith that they are going to come up with an acceptable alternative to our request. Please listen with equity and speak with civility.

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