By Eric Heinz 

After more than 90 minutes of public comment and deliberation at the Sept. 4 City Council meeting, in addition to earlier meetings hosted on the subject, pickleball courts will be striped at two parks in San Clemente.

The City Council voted to approve a one-year pilot program to add the sport to two of the city’s tennis courts, one at San Gorgonio and one at San Luis Rey parks.

Pickleball is a slightly smaller version of tennis that uses a whiffle ball instead of rubber balls, and the paddles and nets vary in size. If you ask the most avid pickleball player, they’ll tell you they’re two completely different sports. But pickleball has been growing rapidly in popularity not just in San Clemente but across the nation.

Some people want to separate pickleball from the tennis courts so that they won’t have to share the time with one another, but that was seen as too difficult at this time. To resurface a court would cost about $15,000 and to build completely new courts would cost upward of $325,000, according to city documents.

Restriping the tennis courts for dual use only has a price tag of $600, plus the portable nets the city intends to purchase are only another $1,600.

One tennis court can be striped with pickleball lines over the tennis courts to create four pickleball courts, as they’re much smaller.

Pickleball would be prioritized at San Luis Rey Park on Sundays and Thursdays, and Mondays and Wednesdays would be prioritized at San Gorgonio.

The city currently has 13 tennis courts, one of which needs to be resurfaced completely, and with the Lifetime Fitness still in the planning phases, the tennis players said they felt their options for playing have become limited.

“We have seen a large amount of interest at the Rancho San Clemente club,” said City Manager James Makshanoff during the meeting. “Staff does not have a timeline on Lifetime (opening), but it’s in planning right now. Lifetime Fitness does not intend to have pickleball courts at this time, but they could have more if the demand is there.”

“Really, what this comes down to are budgetary restraints that are inescapable,” said Mayor Tim Brown during the meeting following public comment. “We haven’t built a new tennis court in San Clemente for 20 years since the incorporation of Talega.”

Brown added that the “lion’s share” of the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Department funding goes to the beaches for maintenance and other needs.

“That said, the short-term is we’re able to do lines and evaluate how well they operate,” Brown said.

The amendment to the Master Plan in order to restripe the courts will go through a second reading at the next City Council meeting.

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