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San Francisco pickleball players clash with nearby Presidio Heights mansion owners

Pickleball players clash with San Francisco homeowners in pricey Presidio Heights
Pickleball players clash with San Francisco homeowners in pricey Presidio Heights 03:24

San Francisco's upscale Presidio Heights neighborhood has become the site of a turf war between multi-million dollar mansion owners and a growing pickleball community.

At issue are six pickleball courts at Presidio Wall Playground. Players say the city's decision to close courts following complaints by a handful of wealthy residents is 'outrageous'. They're pushing back, in a very loud way.

"People love pickleball. They love pickleball and these courts are the ones they want to take away," said Lisa Shaw.

Once an avid tennis player, Shaw is not relinquishing the courts without a fight.

"It's really all about the community and when you take away six courts from a very popular place, you're splitting up a community," said Shaw.

The Recreation and Parks Department recently put up signs saying "Tennis Only", essentially shutting down six of the 12 pickleball courts.

A Presidio Heights resident just across the street, who owns a home listed for $29,000,000 with a backyard pickleball court, ironically, spearheaded an effort to shut down the public courts, complaining of noise impacting residents and wildlife.

"It's the middle of the day. When you live next to a playground or park you should expect noise," said Shaw.

"It is loud. No one's gonna say that it's not," said Joe Grossman.

Grossman also lives just down the street. He and dozens of pickleballers are willfully ignoring the closure signs to make a stand.

"I can hear it from my house so I'm sure these guys hear it a lot louder all the time. It does suck about the noise but just because you don't like something it doesn't mean you get to complain about it and then at the end of the day get your way," said Shaw.

"It was just dictated by Recreation and Parks that they were taking away our courts so of course we went into an uproar," said Shaw.

Nearby residents understand the tension, including Katie Pyle, whose father plays pickleball.

"He can hear the pickleball in the morning and I know it kind of bugs him but he also loves to play pickleball," said Pyle.

Shaw says the players roll away their own nets each day, and clear the space if a tennis player shows up with a reservation. But she believes that by closing the courts, the city is kowtowing to a select group of wealthy residents.

"They should just come out and try to play. They will probably be a lot happier. I mean, seriously, it's so good for your health. It's fun to be outside. It's a good excuse. People are nice and welcoming and friendly and I'm happy to give a lesson for free," said Shaw.

It's an act of kindness, but she won't be giving away any courts, without a fight.

KPIX also made multiple attempts asking for an on-camera interview with the city's Recreation and Parks Director Phil Ginsburg to explain the closure.

His office sent us a statement reading that reads, in part:

"When a small residential park like Presidio Wall starts drawing 150 people on a weekend with all the accompanying noise, trash and traffic, we have to adjust ... So, while removing six pickleball courts at Presidio, we will be adding them in other locations to balance opportunities to play pickleball with a responsibility to limit neighborhood headaches."

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