La Cañada Flintridge pickleball fans in a pickle over game's loud noise level

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Friday, October 28, 2022
La Cañada Flintridge pickleball fans in a pickle over game's noise
La Cañada Flintridge pickleball fans in a pickle over game's noise

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Pickleball may be finding a home in the hearts and souls of millions of fans, but it's having a hard time finding a home in La Cañada Flintridge.

Thursday marked the early end of a pickleball trial run at a local park after neighbors complained about the amount of noise the sport generates, leaving hundreds of pickleball players scrambling to find other high-demand courts.

"I play maybe maybe two or three times a week, maybe more if I can find a court to play on," said 82-year-old Gary Stebal, who is baffled by the noise complaints since the court at Glenhaven Park sits just yards away from the 210 Freeway. "They live beside a freeway which makes, to me in my mind, more noise than a pickle ball would ever make."

But many of the residents who live near the park say the sounds of pickleball are considerably more intrusive than tennis, which they say they have no problem with.

"Pickleball is like a whiffle ball - hard plastic on a hard surface," said Bob Lasiewicz, who doesn't live near the courts, but has been helping the nearby neighbors work with the city to end pickleball at Glenhaven Park. "The court in pickleball is much smaller, so you're probably hitting the ball five times as much (compared to tennis)."

Omer Al Nasser's home is just 23 feet from the court. He says the pickleball players are much louder than tennis players, often shouting frequently during their games.

"These people come and 'Bah, bah, bah, bah!'" he said, loudly demonstrating the player's volume. "Yelling and screaming! This thing need to stop. It will stop in court if it won't stop in the city."

La Cañada Flintridge Division Manager Arabo Parseghian said plans by the city to build pickleball courts at Mayor's Discovery Park have stalled after resistance from residents and that the city has now turned to the La Cañada Skate Park, which it hopes to convert into three pickleball courts and a basketball court.

But Parseghian says that plan relies on approval from the La Cañada Unified School District, and getting that could take months. Add in about a year and a half to actually design and build the courts, and Parseghian says it could be about two years away from becoming reality.

That leaves pickleball fans like Tony Cerniglia looking for courts in the area.

"I'm 80 years old and I'm having the time of my life because of pickleball," he told Eyewitness News.

Bill Koury, the president of the La Cañada Flintridge Pickleball Association, says membership in the club now tops 350 people.

"There's a lot of support for pickleball," he said. "We just gotta get the decision-makers onboard to make it happen."