Pickleball noise puts city in a pickle with players, neighbors

by Dan Blackburn

In the end, there was no quick resolution to a perceived problem posed by pickleball played on Kelly Courts in Hermosa Beach, despite efforts by city officials to measure and maybe mitigate the sounds of the game. 

Responding to what he described as “the ongoing resident complaints regarding noise impacts to those living near the courts,” John Jones, the city’s interim community resources manager, led a months-long investigation seeking ways to muffle the game’s irritating tick, tick, tick.

The objective was to learn if a change of equipment would do the deed. The resulting study centered around a three-day experiment at Kelly Courts, located on Valley Drive.

Early in February, the city provided for volunteer players the only equipment allowed to be used during a Tuesday through Saturday period. Those were the “Prolite Bolt” paddle and the “Onix Pure 2” pickleball, which had been carefully selected by city staff, according to Jones’ eventual report to commissioners.

This equipment is used primarily for beginning and entry-level players. However, pickleball players participating in Jones’ study were “overwhelmingly” intermediate and advanced, a circumstance that evidently skewed the end results.

The study sought players’ opinions on both the “playability” of the gear and the perceived noise levels during play.

A couple dozen responded. Jones learned that an average of 80 percent believed the equipment adversely impacted the quality of their game. Even more, 87 percent of respondents, said the noise generated by the city’s equipment was no quieter than their own equipment. Another 4.3 percent thought the sound was louder.

A related study solicited the opinions of people living within one block and beyond regarding the sound during the testing period. Only four individuals commented, all saying the noise level “was no different” from those times when personal equipment was being used.

Jones presented his findings to the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission on March 2. The commission took no action.

Jones said this week that a plan” is being developed to further address this matter.

That might involve collaboration between players and residents “to reach a potential solution,” he said. Changes in current policies for the courts remain under the purview of the city council. ER

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Written by: Dan Blackburn

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