In February, City Council decided to move forward with installing pickleball courts at Mitchell Park despite concerns from the community.
Now, the City is reversing this decision, instead voting to install “chess/checker tables, bocce ball courts, shade structures and stage installation at the social gathering area, additional benches, interactive educational signage, and pathway lighting,” according to their agenda report from an Oct. 12 meeting.
The city will reallocate the $210,000 set aside for the two pickleball courts to alternative amenities in efforts to revamp the historical park.
Some community members saw pickleball as an enjoyable, COVID-safe activity for the community. But last spring, approximately 20 community members criticized the plans to establish the courts in Mitchell Park.
Some worried that the pickleball courts would diminish the space available to unhoused residents of San Luis Obispo.
Michelle Mansker, an advocate for the unhoused community, said that the proposed plans for the park seemed like “a way to maybe force the unhoused community members out of Mitchell Park,” according to a previous Mustang News article.
Bobby Gallo, a San Luis Obispo resident, described Mitchell Park as a “little crown jewel in downtown San Luis Obispo.” Gallo supports the plans to improve the park with new amenities.
“This park hasn’t been revamped in a while,” Gallo said.
Gallo did not see a need for pickleball courts, however.
“It would probably be a waste of money if there’s no need for it anyways,” Gallo said.
However, other residents would have liked to see the pickleball courts added to the downtown park.
Jobie Brigham thought the pickleball courts would be a good idea, especially because pickleball is a safe activity to enjoy during the pandemic.
The park improvements follow the passing of Proposition 68 passed in 2018 which recognizes “the need for underserved communities to have equitable access to outdoor recreation facilities.” The proposition provides funds to rehabilitate parks like Mitchell Park in efforts to attract new and diverse people.