Dozens of Carlsbad tennis players who spoke against converting two Laguna Riviera tennis courts to pickleball courts were heard Tuesday night, as the city council voted unanimously to reconsider that part of the park's master plan — while they approved the rest.
City staff and a private park planning consultant spent the last year drawing up the plan, which includes community gardens and reducing the number of tennis courts to those at Calavera Hills and Pointsettia Community parks.
But local tennis players — who were alerted to the vote on the plan only by a handwritten sign posted at the endangered tennis courts, were able to persuade the council to take another look.
"It would be an absolute tragedy to take away these two courts for a game I've never heard of," said Joanna Raworth. "This area has 40,000 tennis players and 35 pickleball players."
Speaker after speaker talked about lining up and waiting hours for one of the public park's tennis courts. Players noted that they can use the high school's courts on weekends when there aren't school tournaments.
Resident Jerry Forsch said he was very upset that the parks didn't talk to the users for the survey, or tell them about the meeting. Forsch posted a handwritten notice at the park that brought most of the speakers.
"There was no official notice, we never received a request for input, no one I know who plays tennis at the park. "Maybe some day I'll want to play pickleball; right now it seems pretty slow but I don't want to knock any racquet sport."
Forsch and Robert Fila went to see pickleball being played and came back with the notion that tennis courts — even basketball courts — can be adapted to pickleball without eliminating them as tennis courts.
"You can put four pickleball courts on one tennis court," said Robert Fila, who runs a private tennis club. "That's how I would accommodate this. I'd set aside a few hours dedicated to pickleball and restripe it. You can move temporary nets onto the court."
In fact, Forsch said, the Pickleball Association says that works great — that adding stripes and using nets that can be set up and taken down for dedicated use works fine.
But Forsch said the park planners told him that it caused problems by confusing pickleball players, and that the city has a surplus of tennis courts.
Council members voted unanimously to pass the master plan but to send the tennis-pickleball pickle back to staff to see if there wasn't a more accommodating solution, like shared use.
Not everyone who spoke got their concerns considered.
People also advocated for bicycling in the parks, and for trails that actually connect. The city counts 47 miles of trails, but that includes fire roads and other pavement. Chris Rossman, an avid mountain biker, said the city has about 11 miles of unpaved trails and they don't connect.
"Good trails have no pavement, no lights, no lines — [those are] real trails," said Chris Rossman. "There's six miles in Calavera, two in La Costa, a few here and there. It's like playing one hole of golf, then driving to another place and playing three more holes, and then driving to another place to play — you get the idea," he said.