OVA hijacked by pickleball special interests
By Kerry Oswald
The Nov. 1 Oakmont News article regarding the Oct. 20 Oakmont Village Association (OVA) meeting stated “50 residents lined up and about half got to speak.” In reality (per OVA video) 10 spoke against the Central Activities Center Pickleball Project (CACPBP), addressing specific issues. The next 21 speakers touted the benefits of pickleball, including two pickleball players who cut into line as evidenced by both witnesses and the OVA video tape. Neither were reprimanded for inappropriate behavior by the Board President. In addition, board members allowed the reading of numerous letters supporting the CACPBP by individuals not in attendance at the meeting. At the end of the hour there were four speakers standing, two of which would have had their voices heard if the pickleball players had not cut in line. (Total 35).
The following people spoke in opposition to the CACPBP and addressed the following issues, most of which were blown off as a “spate of negative comments” in the Oakmont News. That article gave much space to those supporting pickleball, so I will not repeat that here.
Lise Bonomi pointed out the petition of over 1,100 Oakmont residents opposing the current CACPBP, including numerous pickleball players, citing noise pollution, visual obstructions of public views, continually escalating costs, location, drop in property value, and exposure of OVA to litigation.
Elaine Bennett addressed CA Corporation Code 7231A, Board of Directors fiduciary responsibility, duty of loyalty (to all they represent), duty of care – to act prudently and consider all options fairly.
Tom Bonomi stated that the Pickleball Club has about 140 members, only 50 of whom are regularly playing, as witnessed by observers. He also noted that other less costly options were given to the OVA Board and refused many times.
Larry Battencourt, who has been verbally assaulted repeatedly by pickleball players, asked for cooperation to find a viable common solution.
Magda Shelton, a 95-year-old resident, reported repeated verbal threats and assaults, including being told to “move,” some so traumatic as to result in health problems never experienced before.
I addressed the board for “not being prepared” for opposition to CACPBP, stating that it is the board’s responsibility to be prepared for all pros and cons relating to a particular issue and to fairly represent the entire community, noting that in a point study, 80+ percent of residents oppose this project, and 10 percent refused involvement, citing fear of retaliation from the OVA board, management, and pickleball players.
Ellen Zeznik said that the peace and quiet of the community has been shattered by this issue and requested that a reasonable solution be found by expanding the Ad Hoc Committee to cover all concerned or impacted by this project. The board refused.
Harriett Polk cited $60,000 already spent on CACPBP and potential cost overruns of up to 50 percent, bringing the potential cost to over half a million dollars.
Joe Hill noted that the CACPBP is a major capital investment for a non-essential capital improvement.
Philip Marvier offered to pay all costs for ballots to be sent to all Oakmont residents so the community could decide whether to proceed with CACPBP or not. The Board declined to respond.
A number of pickleball supporters cited exercise and health benefits, while others touted, “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America.” However, of 11 websites surveying the top 10 to 15 sports in America, 10 made no mention of pickleball, and one provided information solely from the U.S. Pickleball Association, which claims to have over 100,000 players worldwide. Yet www.phitamerica.org lists the 15 fastest growing sports in America, all of which have at least double that of pickleball and most boast players in the millions within the U.S. alone. (www.phitamerica.org/News_Archive/America_s_Fast_Growing_Sports.htm#sthash.BEr9bHK6.dpuf).
Ron Levy stated that complaints have been “largely mitigated.” Clearly, this is not the case based on ongoing complaints, opposing petitions, the city’s refusal to incorporate CACPBP demands, and those who have sold their homes because of this project.
While there are some who claim that the primary duty of the OVA is to provide amenities, in fact it is far more encompassing. All Oakmont residents belong to the OVA, which provides governance for the community. The OVA has a seven-member volunteer board of directors who are elected by the residents to oversee policies on architecture, land use and facilities, communications and long range planning (oakmontvillage.com).
The May 2015 Voices of Oakmont resident survey for the Long Range Planning Committee showed support for numerous other interests over pickleball courts. In order these are: gathering space (coffee/winebar), 34 percent; communitywide WiFi, 33 percent; safety – streets and sidewalks, 28 percent; expand Fitness Center, 25 percent; solar panels on OVA facilities, 25 percent; OVA sponsored trips, 23 percent; build indoor pool, 19 percent; build dog park, 19 percent; create adult daycare, 14 percent; expand community garden, 13 percent; build pickleball courts, 13 percent.
Clearly, the needs and desires of Oakmont residents are being sacrificed by the OVA Board to an aggressive special interest group.