The Palisades Park Advisory (PAB) held its quarterly meeting on April 19, in the small gym. The lack of Wi-Fi in the facility prevented it from being a hybrid meeting (Zoom and live.)
Top on the agenda was a recommendation to replace the Recreation Center bathrooms, built in the 1950s, which are handicapped-inaccessible.
The board, which consists of residents who are volunteers, has reached out to the City’s Recreation and Parks (RAP) before about bathrooms (and the playground-also not handicapped accessible).
At the L.A. City Board of Commissioner’s meeting held the next morning, April 20, RAP Executive Director Jimmy Kim in his report said, “We’re working on ADA accessible restrooms in Pacific Palisades.” He said his staff was in the process of identifying funding.
At the Palisades meeting, Rec Center Park Director Jasmine Dowlatshani said she had met with RAP officials and had been told that “pickleball cannot be played permanently anywhere in this park because of noise and the location to residences.
“This park is surrounded by homes,” she was told.
Dowlatshani, who has made the large gym available for pickleball on Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will continue that scheduling.
Director of the Palisades Tennis Center, Michael Tomas, said he would make tennis courts 1 and 3 available daily before 2 p.m. for pickleball. A woman in the audience yelled at him and said that was unacceptable, that he just wanted to make money. The Tennis Center only has control of courts 1-4.
It appears there has been an issue with as many as 50 to 60 pickleball players on Courts 7 and 8. Courts 5-8 are reserved through Park Services, based in Griffith Park.
On Saturday, Dowlatshani found two courts had been reserved, but there had been no permit for pickleball or a large number of participants. Unpermitted activities are not allowed in the park.
RAP is working with Dowlatshani, so that in the future, she will be able to handle reservations for courts 5-8 at the Rec Center.
She noted that there are a “lot of entities that are not under control of the Palisades Park Director, including tennis, bocce and baseball.”
Tomas said, “I fully support everything that Jasmine does. We can solve problems on site, so that parkgoers have the best experiences. We don’t want people circumventing the rules.”
The next morning, April 20, Circling the News was on an email thread in which Vora Pong, the USAPA Ambassador of Pacific Palisades, said if there were any questions to contact him.
CTN responded, “Thank you so much for reaching out. My questions have nothing to do with the popularity of the sport–or how much people enjoy it, but rather just about the Palisades Recreation Center rules.
“I was told pickleball people had a reservation, but not a permit. Is that correct?
I was told that people play for free but must pay $5 to help pay for the tape to line the pickleball courts.
“If there are 50 people and they each pay $5, that’s $250 where does that go–or is the tape that expensive?
“Are there any fees that pickleball players pay to the City to use park facilities? (Other than the $12 needed to reserve a tennis court.).”
A pickleball player wrote, “The $5 is a donation no one is forced to pay or turned away because they can’t or won’t donate, making us a truly inclusive group made up of mostly senior citizens.
“The donation doesn’t just go for the tape. The nets break, and need repair or replacement, balls also break, get lost or disappear. They are very expensive for the ‘good’ ones. We have loaner paddles (also very expensive) that also break, get lost or disappear,” the player wrote. “Bottled water is provided for hydration as well.
“It just seems punitive to me that something that has been working so well and making many people so happy and healthy can be destroyed by a few people who think they know better than the people who actually experience it.”
Tomas was asked if he had been able to look at replacing the lighting at the Tennis Center to be more energy efficient. He said he would follow up.
Also discussed were replacing trees, that have “aged” and have completed their current life span – many of which have died or fallen over along the park perimeter.
The board was told by PAB Member David Card that he had received one bid for replanting the trees, and that he was told by the city, the community would have to raise the money for new trees.
Many commissioners said they knew people who would contribute to planting trees at the Rec Center. This topic will be reviewed at the next meeting, scheduled for July 20.
Other Palisades Park noise concerns may be visited at that meeting, too.
“Trees will not block sound,” Card reminded PAB members. “They will only block light.”
Off-leash dogs continue to be an issue at the Rec Center, at the Rec Center’s front lawn, on the Field of Dreams, and now at George Wolfberg Park. It is against the laws to have dogs off-leash in city parks and also on streets.
A new playground was discussed. As one mom pointed out, in addition to not being ADA accessible, this one “is disgusting.”
It was suggested to the PAB board that they put in a request to RAP and see when Pacific Palisades playground, built in 1986, is on the replacement list.
California Assembly Bill, 1055, required all playgrounds installed between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1999, be updated by January 2000. This playground never was.
In 2014, PAB voted that the playground be upgraded to a Universally Accessible Playground (“UAP”) in Partnership with Shane’s Inspiration. The board was told that playground equipment for a UAP is designed to serve both children with special needs and able-bodied children.
Griffith Park was the first inclusive park opened in Los Angeles. Subsequently, 56 playgrounds have opened. The most recent universal playground to receive funding from Rec and Parks was in Westwood in 2021.
The mom at the meeting said the playground was important “because this is something that all kids in the community can use.”
(Editor’s note: Pong responded by email on April 20. “Apparently, you’ve all been misinformed. Let me gather all of the ‘facts’ including all of my email communications with the Palisades Rec Center & the City of Los Angeles Dept of Recreation & Parks. Look for a lengthy explanation from me, hopefully by next Monday. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to clarify things and for giving us, Palisades Pickleball, a seat at the table.”
When CTN receives his letter, I will run it.)