San Jose pickleball players upset over city rules
Parkgoers play pickleball at Paul Moore Park in San Jose. Photo courtesy of Chris Roth.

    A skirmish has broken out on one of San Jose’s most popular pickleball courts between players and the city—and it can’t be settled with a score.

    Citywide Sports, an offshoot of the San Jose parks department that handles field reservations, is asking pickleballers at Paul Moore Park to break down their nets every day to keep the courts open for all parkgoers in compliance with city rules—and to avoid them being stolen or vandalized.

    Players are frustrated there isn’t a place in the park to store the nets, leaving them to bring the nets home.

    Chris Roth, former board member of the San Jose Pickleball Club and pickleball advocate, said the ideal situation is to create more permanent pickleball courts to avoid conflict with tennis players over court space. If more permanent courts can’t be made, Roth said he wants the club to be able to use a storage shed it previously had access to, in order to allow the club to keep making an impact on residents.

    “It’s kind of a utopia, people just rotating and having fun and getting to know each other, especially after the pandemic,” he told San José Spotlight.

    Pickleball players at Paul Moore Park, which has six overlay courts inside tennis courts, previously left nets out overnight before the city asked the club to move them. The club lost access to a shed for city equipment, and requests for pickleball-designated courts at the park have been denied.

    “(But) there’s six heavy nets someone’s got to store in their garage or their car, and then they have to drive out there, set them up,” Kenji Miwa, cofounder and former president of the San Jose Pickleball Club, told San José Spotlight. “That’s not trivial.”

    Daniel Lazo, spokesperson for the parks department, said the city notified the pickleball club on July 17 to remove equipment from the shed, and that the shed is for Adopt-a-Park equipment. He said while the city recognizes pickleball’s rapid growth, it wants the courts available as needed.

    “We want to make it accessible for all users,” Lazo told San José Spotlight.

    Roth said the measures feel unwarranted. He said players have sent more than 50 emails to the parks department, the mayor’s office and Councilmember Pam Foley, who represents the Paul Moore Park area, asking for the situation to be resolved.

    Foley said while she acknowledges the positive impact the sport has on residents, the parks department needs to enforce its rules for safety.

    “We’re hopeful that the conversation taking place between (parks) staff and the pickleball club in regard to the shed and equipment storage will result in a successful path forward,” Foley told San José Spotlight.

    Paul Moore Park has been a popular destination for pickleball since the pandemic ended and interest in the sport skyrocketed. There are nearly 60 courts in San Jose, according to the San Jose Pickleball Club.

    The park attracts an estimated 100 people during the day and 60 people at night, Roth said.

    Miwa said without a place to keep equipment, the pickleball club has to contend with logistical problems.

    “We have no kind of home base of operations,” he said. “We’re a nonprofit social club. None of us are getting paid. We’re all volunteers. And I feel like we’ve done a lot of great good for the community.”

    The parks department has formed an internal team to plan for more pickleball courts, Lazo said.

    Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.

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