Tennis players and pickleball players are frenemies who simply cannot share a court—and the battle over volleying space is getting tense in Solvang

Hans Christian Andersen Park hosts the city’s only two pickleball courts but they’re on the verge of closure with cracking and drainage issues. 

“The current courts are getting to the point where it could become a safety hazard,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jenny McClurg

Oof. Sounds like a pretty serious court case, amirite? 

The city of Solvang doesn’t seem that interested in repairing the damage just yet because there are master plans that need updating! Exciting and fast-moving stuff, folks! Instead, the Parks and Recreation Department is stirring the pot. 

On Feb. 12, the Solvang City Council voted to go along with Parks and Recreation’s staff recommendation to retrofit a Hans Christian Andersen tennis court for pickleball with new paint and portable pickleball nets. I bet the tennis players are going to love that!

Councilmember David Brown said he was worried that converting any of the tennis courts into temporary pickleball courts might upset local tennis buffs. 

“It was evident that they didn’t want to share the tennis courts,” Brown said, referring to residents who spoke at an October meeting about how Solvang needs new pickleball courts. Some complained that pickleball players were already encroaching on their tennis courts too often. 

Sounds dicey! 

“There are some people who are kind of aggressive, and I can see conflict happening,” USA Pickleball Ambassador David Gay told council members on Feb. 12.

It wasn’t too long ago that tennis players were complaining that pickleball players were too aggressive. Oh, how the tables have turned! Gay advocated for the city to temporarily convert one of the four tennis courts into four individual pickleball courts, saying that it would prevent “conflict with the tennis players.”

Sounds like people in Solvang are pretty protective of their court space. Hopefully everyone involved can keep their aggression under wraps while the city figures out a new recreation master plan, where it tries to please everyone on the court instead of racket-swingers ending up in court. 

But those rich racketeers with free time to tie up on the court are sitting pretty compared to at least one Santa Maria firefighter. He’s living in his van and providing emergency services to Santa Maria city residents because he’s not making enough money to afford housing (Not cool!)—something his union is trying to change. 

Santa Maria Fire Department employees make 14 percent less than their counterparts on the Central Coast, according to Firefighter union President Matthew Chircop, who also said that Santa Maria’s fire department is the second lowest paid in the Tri-Counties area, leading to lots of issues. 

“We constantly have turnover, we constantly have recruitment and retention problems,” he said. “Santa Maria is the fastest growing city in the county, the largest city in the county. We are busier than any other agency around.” 

Why exactly can’t the city pay its firefighters a living wage? I’m not talking about the fire captains. I’m talking about the firefighter living in his car and all the other firefighters struggling to make a living while providing a public service to city residents.

The Canary is concerned about rackets. Send your choice of ball to [email protected].

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