Seattle Parks should release the official list by the end of June.
We expect this list to include the Gilman Playground tennis courts in Ballard. These courts were initially slated to be resurfaced last summer, but it never happened probably because of poor air quality at the time the resurfacing was supposed to take place.
This list will also very likely include the Rainier Beach tennis courts. With 8 lighted pickleball courts, we expect this to become a hub for the Southeast Seattle pickleball community.
We expect Seattle Parks to officially announce by the end of June which tennis courts will get pickleball lines this summer.
On July 15, the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department’s Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams wrote that (1) it is SPR’s policy to addpickleball lines only to the tennis courts that historically get low usage by tennis players and (2) that adding pickleball court lines to the tennis courts located next to the Jefferson and Rainier Community Centers would constitute a “change of use to parks or park facilities” which would require an opaque and cumbersome review process.
Today, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association President Frank Chiappone sent the following reply.
From: Frank Chiappone Sent: Sunday, August 1, 2021 4:33 PM To: Williams, Christopher ; NATHAN KING Cc: PKS_Info <PKS_Info@seattle.gov>; Sheffer, Andy; SMPA.Board.Of.Directors Subject: RE: Recreational Equity SE Seattle [pickleball]
Dear Deputy Superintendent Williams,
Thank you for seeking input from the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) regarding the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department’s plan to finally add pickleball court lines to some of the outdoor tennis courts in Southeast Seattle (south of Capitol Hill and East of I-5).
SMPA is delighted to hear that after adding lines for over 40 outdoor pickleball courts on existing tennis courts in 10 different locations outside of Southeast Seattle, SPR is now getting close to start painting its first pickleball court lines on some of Southeast Seattle’s outdoor tennis courts.
SMPA fully supports SPR’s policy to make significant changes to facility programming only with broad public engagement and support.
SPR has already added pickleball lines on tennis courts near existing community centers that host pickleball player communities, such as Delridge, High Point, Miller, Bitter Lake, South Park and Green Lake;
SPR has already scheduled the work to add pickleball lines on tennis courts near the Magnolia Community Center which also hosts an active pickleball player community;
SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near the Meadowbrook Community Center which hosts pickleball players;
SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near Southeast Seattle’s Rainier Community Center which hosts the largest and most diverse pickleball player community in the entire city;
The Pickleball Pilot Study Report has been approved by the Superintendent;
SPR’s Strategic Plan states that SPR will “get the most out of our current parks and facilities by converting single-use spaces into multi-functional spaces in order to serve more people within our system, including converting tennis courts into multi-sport courts, …”;
SPR’s Strategic Plan has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Park Commissioners, the City Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, and probably the Seattle Council;
Southeast Seattle’s Rainier, Jefferson and Van Asselt Community Centers host large, vibrant, and diverse pickleball player communities
SPR’s recently announced plan of adding pickleball court lines on Southeast Seattle tennis courts that are located nowhere near the community centers hosting the local pickleball communities is departing from the de facto policy of locating most pickleball court lines near the community centers that host pickleball players. We must question why SPR is choosing to treat Southeast Seattle differently from the rest of the city.
You say that “the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners needs to weigh in on any change of use to parks or park facilities”. We would like to point out that SPR has already painted pickleball court lines on over 20 tennis courts, and is planning to paint lines on at least 14 more, without seeking Board of Park Commissioners approval.
We are concerned with SPR’s most recent focus on allowing pickleball only on tennis courts that see little usage by tennis players, without considering why some tennis courts see more usage than others. High usage correlates with court features such as:
the current state of the court surface
the proximity of available parking lots which is even more important for pickleball players than tennis players since pickleball players often need to bring their own net,
water fountain availability,
light availability for evening play,
By allowing pickleball players only on the courts least used by tennis players, you are effectively restricting pickleball players to the least desirable courts and reserving the most desirable courts for tennis players. This is discrimination. We welcome any opportunity to speak directly to the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners, Seattle Parks and Recreation, City Council or any other civic leader that can help us immediately address and correct these concerns.
Consequently, given the precedent set with other pickleball court lining projects already finished, currently scheduled, or recommended by SPR in other parts of the city, we request that SPR add pickleball court lines to the tennis courts at Rainier Playfield as recommended in SPR’s Pickleball Pilot Study Report and at one of the two of the following locations:
“It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another“
Nathan King expressed to Mayor Durkan his displeasure with the way the Seattle Parks department is treating Southeast Seattle pickleball players. The Parks Department replied that even though they already have or are about to line tennis courts for pickleball near many community centers that host pickleball programs, when it comes to Southeast Seattle community centers they cannot do the same.
Here is Nathan King’s latest reply, dated July 20.
To Christopher Williams, Deputy Superintendent Cc. SMPA, Andy Sheffer Planning and Development Division Director
Thank you for this reply. I understand why SPR prefers to work with community groups and their representatives and I would guess most members of the pickleball community would prefer this as well. However, your response highlights many of the very reasons why I, and many others, have lost faith in this arrangement. I ask you consider the following:
It is unreasonable to ask the public to funnel feedback through community organizations such as the SMPA when SPR has not in good faith included this organization fully and transparently in all phases of decision making related to equitable use of city courts. I demand the SMPA receives equal representation to that which the tennis community receives via the Amy Yee Tennis Center and its representatives. Otherwise, asking the public to not provide direct feedback to SPR is for the convenience of SPR only.
You mentioned the 16 new courts planned for Southeast Seattle. The fact that you mention this as a gesture of SPR good faith effort to respond to community feedback is tone-deaf and emblematic of many of the issues being raised. A petition with almost 800 signatures addressed why the courts selected for dual-lines in Southeast Seattle are unacceptable and inequitable. By trumpeting this effort on your part reflects either that you, and/or SPR in general are ignorant to this vociferous public feedback, or have simply chosen to ignore it. Pickleball players are asking for quality, not just quantity.
SPR fear of displacing tennis players is just unfair. It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another. Currently, tennis players have access to hundreds of tennis courts all around the city. These include the best faculties described as having lights, restrooms, parking newer surfaces, high court capacity, etc. Many of these courts are designated as “tennis only” courts by policy, or de facto owing to lack of pickleball court lines. The SPR plan to designate some courts for dual-lines is in itself inequitable since even these courts are lined in a manner that under utilizes the potential court capacity for pickleball, and uses diminished line color – again for the benefit of tennis. As a result of your desire to prevent “displacement” of tennis players, you have hundreds of displaced pickleball players every weekend crowding the few courts that exist while tennis courts sit empty.
Equity. SPR policy believes it is okay to designate courts for pickleball that are being under utilized by tennis players. In fact, the pilot study even suggests that underutilization of courts be determined by “high instances of graffiti and vandalism.“ Once again, please articulate how you believe this is equitable? Why do you think these courts are underutilized by tennis players? Fair sharing of court facilities means EITHER dual-lining ALL courts in the city starting with the MOST desirable, OR equitably designating courts for either dedicated tennis or pickleball. The reason, I believe this is an equity issue is that USTA tennis, despite efforts to the contrary, has historically been a sport predominantly enjoyed by the most affluent and privileged segments of our city. This is apparent in the continued power and influence this recreational community has within SPR as there is no other way to explain why such a clear bias exists.
Finally, you mentioned a community feedback process by the end of the summer. I will offer my input to my SMPA representatives to not participate in any further meetings with SPR until these core inequities are addressed. I will also advocate to my fellow pickleball community members to not participate in any public feedback sessions with SPR, as this would only be used to legitimize the practice of SPR to ignore public feedback and continue the practice of non-transparent and inequitable decisions making. Instead, I will advocate for legal action opportunities.
As a resident of Southeast Seattle, and individual member of the community, I ask that you address these concerns as a starting point to any plans moving forward.
Here is Seattle Parks’ most recent answer to our requests.
Not surprisingly, this most recent reply still does not directly address any of our requests. Instead, it calls them suggestions. And it proposes that some Park employee without the power to make any significant decision can coordinate with other staff to see if they can work something out. We know better.
It does not address the fact that Seattle Parks chose the most undesirable tennis courts to make them available to pickleball players.
It does not answer how Seattle Parks measured “high-demand” areas for pickleball in Southeast Seattle and managed to exclude Jefferson and Rainier from the results.
It suggests that we raise funds to donate more semi-permanent outdoor pickleball nets until Seattle Parks has enough nets for every painted pickleball court.
It mentions that Seattle Parks now has a “citywide pickleball planning committee”, but it fails to mention if this committee contains any representatives of the pickleball community. It certainly does not have any representative from the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association, or any of the Southeast Seattle pickleball players who sent this petition to the Superintendent. We suspect it is made exclusively of Parks employees, some of which work for the Amy Yee tennis center.
Finally, it mentions that Seattle Parks’ staff plan to meet with the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) board members at least quarterly. Is this supposed to be some sort of substitute for the meeting we, Southeast Seattle pickleball players, asked to have with the Superintendent?
As one of the recipients of this email said: “this is what a slap in the face feels like”.
You can read the full email from Seattle Parks below.
From: Dunlap, Laurie
<Laurie.Dunlap@seattle.gov> On Behalf Of PKS_Info
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2021 3:42 PM Subject: RE: Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now
June 15, 2021
and other Southeast pickleball players, hello again.
court lining and refinishing described in our June 3 email is the extent of
what Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has capacity for at this time.
explore possible options for the future, please contact Tim Pretare (firstname.lastname@example.org): Tim can
coordinate with other staff to see if SPR can work toward any of your specific
suggestions, and he can work with you to explore other options, such as your
members raising funds to donate more semi-permanent nets until we have enough
nets for every painted court.
be assured that the pickleball community continues to have SPR’s ear through
the citywide pickleball planning committee. SPR staff plan to meet with
the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) board members at least
Superintendent’s Office, Seattle Parks and Recreation
Did you know that (as of Spring 2021) there are no official public outdoor pickleball court lines anywhere in Southeast Seattle. None in Beacon Hill, Brighton, Columbia City, Dunlap, Genesee, Hillman City, Lakeridge, Lakewood, Seward Park, Mount Baker, New Holly, North Beacon Hill (both 2 & 3), Othello, Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, Rainier View, Rainier Vista, or South Beacon Hill. That is, no outdoor pickleball court lines south of Capitol Hill and East of I-5.
We are not even talking about pickleball courts here. We are just talking about painted lines.
In this pickleball desert, some local residents thirsty for some outdoor pickleball have taken it upon themselves to paint pickleball court lines on the public tennis courts at Dearborn Park and Brighton Playfield. Just to be clear: this is neither approved by the Seattle Parks Department nor endorsed by the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association.
It’s not that there is a lack of people wanting to play pickleball in Southeast Seattle. The largest and most diverse community of pickleball players in Seattle has been playing indoors for years at the Rainier Community Center before the pandemic. And the Jefferson Community Center has hosted sizeable pickleball events through the Lifelong Recreation program and through Smash Pickleball for a long time as well.
Now, the Southeast Seattle players have petitioned the Seattle Parks Department to get some public outdoor pickleball court lines. Their story is unfolding. Read all about it by following the links below.
We are pleased to offer you the least desirable courts
Dunlap, Laurie <
On Behalf Of PKS_Info Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2021 2:24 PM Subject: RE: Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now
June 3, 2021
Miguel and other
Southeast pickleball players, hello.
In May, Senior
Planner Oliver Bazinet and the rest of the planning team met to discuss
potential locations for new pickleball lines, using the limited surplus funding
from the court restoration program, to help meet some of the demand where there
have been issues this year. In making the selection, the team referenced
the criteria in the
pickleball pilot report
, and also factored
in the condition of the exiting courts. They wanted to focus on courts in
areas of the city—particularly Southeast Seattle—that see relatively low
reservations and seem to have high demand.
evaluation, staff contacted contractors to request quotes. Having
received the contractors’ quotes, we can confirm that we’ll be adding
pickleball lines as outlined below.
16 Southeast courts
where new pickleball lines will be added
Dearborn Park (was
resurfaced in 2018) – 4 new pickleball courts
Beacon Hill Playfield
– 4 new pickleball courts
Mt. Baker Park – 4
new pickleball courts
(was resurfaced in 2018) – 4 new pickleball courts
Adding lines to the
other courts will depend on the contractors’ schedules, but we are optimistic
that we can fit in many of them this summer. Of the 16 new pickleball
courts this will add in Southeast (Dearborn, Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Brighton),
8 will be on recently resurfaced courts (Dearborn and Brighton).
12 courts where new
pickleball lines will be added as part of planned resurfacing
– 4 new pickleball courts
W Magnolia Playfield
– 8 new pickleball courts
We can confirm that
this work will take place this year because they were already listed to be
resurfaced and on the contractors’ schedules.
10 courts where faded
pickleball lines will be retouched
To: Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Cc: Courtney Brown, Justin Cutler, Matt Look, Tim Pretare
Seattle, May 8, 2021
Dear Mr. Aguirre,
We would like to bring to your attention that Southeast Seattle (South of Capitol Hill, East of I-5) pickleball players are being neglected by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR).
While the Parks department’s new strategic plan (http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/ParksAndRecreation/PoliciesPlanning/SPR_Strategic_Plan.03.27.2020.pdf) states on page 13 that one of its new strategies is to “Get the most out of our current parks and facilities by converting single-use spaces into multi-functional spaces in order to serve more people within our system, including converting tennis courts into multi-sport courts, adding more paved pathways, and updating parks to meet changing community needs”, the Amy Yee tennis center seems to be focused on preserving the “best” outdoor tennis courts for tennis players.
The pickleball players were told by SPR’s “Rec’n The Streets” that Jefferson Park was available for us to play on Friday, April 09. A group of 20 players showed up to play. The advanced players taped a court. The more recreational players chalked a court. There was a question by the players if we would be able to play the following Friday. I called Matt Look to see if it was possible to play. He told me we were not given permission to use Jefferson Park tennis courts. He did not want us to tape or chalk lines on the tennis courts because he said it will ruin the courts surface. Matt Look also told me if they let pickleball players use the tennis courts pickleball will take over the tennis courts. This thinking just doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the Parks vision of working with the community.
We are now told by SPR’s “Rec’n The Streets” that Pickleball could be played at Beacon Hill Park on Friday, May 14. I went there on Thursday, April 29. I was disappointed to see how old and run down the courts were. Very little street parking. Lots of construction and the workers use up what street parking there is. Rainier Park was also mentioned but Matt Look said it would be Beacon Hill Park where Pickleball could be played. I then went to Rainier Park and could not believe the difference! It was exactly like Jefferson Park, clean painted tennis courts with ample parking. Beautiful!
Once again, Pickleball players were given old rundown courts to play on, it is not even worth the money to paint these old courts for pickleball.
Mr. Aguirre, the following are solutions we ask of you:
1. Reserve the outdoor courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park for Pickleball players 3 times a week starting immediately. Both of these locations have a large number of senior pickleball players who have not been able to play in the adjoining community centers for over a year. Reserving these courts for pickleball players is similar to what SPR already permitted at Miller and Delridge. SPR can tape or chalk pickleball lines at Jefferson and Rainier while waiting for permanent lines to be painted.
2. Paint Pickleball courts lines on all the outdoor tennis courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park as soon as the weather permits. Players in the north end have access to outdoor courts at Bitter Lake, Green Lake, Discovery Park and Soundview. Players living closer to the city center have access to outdoor courts at Miller, Observatory Park and Kinnear Park. West Seattle players have access at Delridge and Walt Hundley. Meanwhile, Southeast Seattle Pickleball players do not have access to any local outdoor playable courts.
3. Address the inequalities between the usage of tennis courts and pickleball courts now. The current attitude of “let’s give them access to the run-down courts at Beacon Hill Park; it is better than nothing” is not acceptable especially since Parks has their vision of multi-use tennis courts.
Jean Crowhorn and Miguel de Campos Co-Southeast Seattle Pickleball Player Representatives
We would like to
bring to your attention the fact that Southeast Seattle (South of Capitol Hill,
East of I-5) pickleball players are being neglected by Seattle Parks and
Even though there
is a demonstrably large community of pickleball players affiliated with the
Jefferson Community Center on Beacon Hill and the Rainier Community Center in
Columbia City, there are no official public outdoor pickleball courts in
Over 200 Seattle
residents have now signed an online petition asking you to:
Reserve the outdoor
courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park for Pickleball players 3 times a
week starting immediately.
Paint Pickleball courts
lines on all the outdoor tennis courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park
as soon as the weather permits.
Address the inequalities
between the usage of tennis courts and pickleball courts now.
The Seattle Metro
Pickleball Association has endorsed this petition as well.
We ask to meet with
you at your earliest convenience so we can learn what Seattle Parks and
Recreation is willing to do to rectify the current situation and address any
concern you might have regarding our requests. We look forward to hearing
Miguel de Campos
Pickleball Player Representatives
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2021 10:55 AM To: PKS_Info <
> Subject: FW: Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now
We sent the email
below to the Superintendent two weeks ago. Would you be able to confirm
that the Superintendent received it? If you could also find out if there
is any point for us to wait a few more days for an answer, that would be
We ask that you reconsider the three requests in our petition and address them one by one
Sent: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 6:30 PM To: Aguirre, Jesús Cc: Bazinet, Oliver; Look, Matthew ; PKS_Info; Brown, Courtney A; Justin Cutler; Tim Pretare; Laurie Dunlap; Jenny Durkan; Tammy Morales Subject: RE: Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now
Thank you for
replying to our petition for more pickleball courts in Southeast Seattle.
requested three specific actions from SPR:
Reserve the outdoor courts at Jefferson Park and
Rainier Park for Pickleball players 3 times a week starting immediately.
Both of these locations have a large number of senior pickleball players
who have not been able to play in the adjoining community centers for over
Reserving these courts for pickleball players is similar to what SPR
already permitted at Miller and Delridge. SPR can tape or chalk pickleball
lines at Jefferson and Rainier while waiting for permanent lines to be
Paint Pickleball courts lines on all the outdoor tennis
courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park
as soon as the weather permits.
Players in the north end have access to outdoor courts at Bitter Lake,
Green Lake, Discovery Park and Soundview. Players living
closer to the city center have access to outdoor courts at Miller,
Observatory Park and Kinnear Park. West Seattle players have access
at Delridge and Walt Hundley. Meanwhile, Southeast Seattle
Pickleball players do not have access to any local outdoor playable
Address the inequalities between the usage of tennis
courts and pickleball courts
The current attitude of “let’s give them access to the run-down courts at
Beacon Hill Park; it is better than nothing” is not acceptable
especially since Parks has their vision of multi-use tennis courts.
Your reply does not
address any of these 3 requests.
Instead, you propose
to allow pickleball players access to a few of the least desirable tennis
courts in Southeast Seattle which is totally unacceptable. That these
courts are the least desirable is borne out by the fact that they have the
fewest reservations. Tennis players look for courts that make them feel safe,
that are in good condition, that have access to bathroom and water fountains,
that have nearby parking, that are lighted in the evening, etc. Not every
player is looking for the exact same thing, but the least desirable courts
unavoidably get the fewest reservations. We see your decision of
selecting the least desirable tennis courts to make them available to
pickleball players as offensive.
You say that the
courts you propose to line for pickleball in Southeast Seattle are located in
“high demand” areas. The only demonstrably high-demand areas are
Jefferson Park and Rainier Playfield, next to community centers that have
hosted pickleball play for years, and two of the most demographically diverse
and concentrated pickleball players areas in the entire city. Lining the
Rainier Playfield courts is even part of the city’s Pickleball Pilot Project
Report recommendations on page 12. If you think that Brighton Playfield and
Dearborn Park are high demand areas because some rogue player painted
pickleball lines there, then you are rewarding players who are taking matters
in their own hands and ignoring the players who have been patiently trying to
work through the proper channels.
We are disappointed
to see that once again Seattle Parks and Recreation is announcing major
decisions affecting pickleball players without having had any pickleball player
representation at the actual decision table. In contrast, tennis players were
clearly afforded adequate representation.
We ask that you
reconsider the three requests in our petition and address them one by one.
Miguel de Campos
Pickleball Player Representatives