Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan: “This is the first time in three years anybody has asked me about pickleball”

On October 23rd, Age Friendly Seattle and The Seattle Public Library hosted Mayor Jenny A. Durkan for a special Civic Coffee Hour and Q&A focusing on issues facing Seattle’s older adults, including COVID-19, the City of Seattle’s 2021 budget, and more.

Several attendees asked pickleball related questions to the Mayor, such as:

“The proposed Seattle Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Plan (SPRCIP) totally defunds the “Sports Court Restoration Program” a tiny fraction of which is the only funding that allows pickleball lines to be painted on outdoor tennis courts. Did the mayor really mean to cut back on the very small amount of money needed to expand access to outdoor pickleball (one of the few popular, accessible, affordable, and fun physical activities that are safe for most older adults and promote social participation) across all Seattle neighborhoods? “

The moderator only relayed one of the many pickleball questions to the mayor. Watch the question and the mayor’s answer below.

A few days after Mayor Durkan’s performance, the Seattle Metro Pickleball association sent her the following letter.

October 28, 2020

The Honorable Jenny Durkan, Mayor
PO Box 94749
Seattle, WA 98124-4749


Re: Age Friendly Initiative request

Dear Mayor Durkan:

Friday, October 23, 2020 you participated in a public “coffee” event organized by Age Friendly Seattle as apart of your Age Friendly initiative and your proposed 2020 budget. The public was invited to submit online questions.

One of the questions read was:

Pickleball is a wonderful sport for seniors. Despite being the birthplace of pickleball, Seattle has no dedicated pickleball courts and limited places to play compared to other cities. We have regularly communicated with SPR about this to no avail. Can you do something to remedy this situation?

Your response to this question was:

“This is the first time in three years anybody has asked me about pickleball.”

First, over the last three years literally hundreds of citizens have communicated with SPR, the Board of Park Commissioners, City Council members and your office urging more pickleball venues and play opportunities. 1, 2. Life Long Recreation Advisory Council has also urged more pickleball opportunities be made available for seniors. Acknowledging that you have never heard about the substantial demand for more pickleball illustrates a serious disconnect between your office and SPR leadership.

Second, according to your Age Friendly Seattle Action Plan 2018-2021, “Social participation and physical activity are essential for both quality of life and longevity” and “Age Friendly Seattle supports learning, fitness, social [..] activities for older adults as well as intergenerational activities that are accessible, affordable, safe, and fun,” and “Age Friendly Seattle supports parks […] that can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.” Pickleball undoubtedly meets all of these criteria. Why is it not receiving the attention it deserves?

Third, your apparent lack of knowledge of the substantial and ongoing efforts of residents to align city recreational opportunities with existing and future demand disserves a large portion of senior residents. In 2019, SPR sought public input in connection with preparation of a 12 year Strategic Plan. The demand for more pickleball was overwhelming 2. Your pending budget wholly ignores this input. Allocating zero dollars for pickleball courts over the next five years runs counter to strong longstanding recreational desires of seniors. See Budget, “Sport Court Restoration Program” page 107 of the SPR CIP.

On behalf of the Seattle metropolitan pickleball community I respectfully request that:

  1. You please familiarize yourself with unmet demand for more pickleball venues and play opportunities for seniors and others and include pickleball in your Age Friendly Initiative;
  2. You or your office respond in writing to the other pickleball related questions submitted in connection with the October 23rd online public coffee event;
  3. That you revise your 2021 budget to include allocations of monies for Restoration of Sports Courts for the years 2021-2026 so that, at a minimum, lines for outdoor pickleball courts could be painted on tennis courts for seniors, as specified in SPR’s Pickleball Pilot Project Report. This should be corrected before the budget is finalized. Otherwise, pickleball opportunities for seniors will be adversely affected for years to come.

Thank you for your consideration.


Seattle Metro Pickleball Association
Jerry Kindinger, President

[1] Over the last three years hundreds of residents have responded to every SPR survey asking what is wanted, every Park’s Department public meeting where input was sought about the recreational “wants” of the community, and every SPR fest marketed with a theme of “tell us what you want”. Every one of these encounters communicated an overwhelming demand for more pickleball venues and play opportunities. In addition, residents have participated in dozens of non public meetings with SPR representatives in an effort to create pickleball opportunities which meet the existing and growing demand.