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Pickleball-hating couple sell mansion for $29M—pickleball court included

Aerial view of a neighborhood with houses, trees, cars and a tennis court.
An aerial view of 3630 Jackson St., where the previous owners hounded nearby pickleball courts out of existence. | | Source: Courtesy image

Presidio Wall pickleball players are saying good riddance to Karl and Holly Peterson, the rich couple who complained about the sound of the game coming from the nearby courts, despite their mansion having a pickleball court of its own.

The pair began a campaign, spearheaded by Holly, against the courts last August—and their complaints, along with other neighbors’—were heard all the way over at City Hall. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks department converted half of the pickleball play areas near their house to tennis courts in mid-January

But after news broke Thursday that the couple is on the verge of selling their multimillion-dollar home for as much as $29 million, pickleball players are now demanding the city give them back their space to play at Presidio Wall Playground. 

“Congratulations to Holly, who will walk away with millions and the knowledge that she broke up (ruined) a thriving, welcoming and successful community in the process,” pickleball activist Lisa Shaw wrote in a text. “She’s got her millions. We’d like our lines!”      

In addition to removing six of Presidio Wall’s 12 pickleball courts, Recreation and Parks demanded that players remove their crowdfunded nets and stripped the courts of their lines, adding insult to injury. 

Shaw, a regular pickleball player at Presidio Wall, thinks it would be justice served to have the courts returned to full pickleball strength.

A group of people with paddles on a pickleball court remove a pickleball net.
Bill Lafferty, center, and others removed a rolling net from the Presidio Wall pickleball courts on Jan. 19. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

“Basically, we feel like she took the money and ran. We won’t hear another word from her again,” added Mary Hickey, a Bay Area ambassador for USA Pickleball who led a passionate showing of “pickle disobedience” at Presidio Wall in January. 

But Hickey also hoped that the Petersons’ farewell from the neighborhood could open the door to more pickleball-friendly relations between property owners, local players and the parks department.       

“Now that the house is selling with a pickleball court, I hope the new owner plays pickleball,” she added. “We’d also like our six courts’ lines back.”  

A man leans on a pickleball net, watching others play pickleball on a cloudy day.
Bill Lafferty, a retired San Francisco paramedic and fireman, isn't sad to see the Petersons go. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

Peter Blatman, a retiree who plays at the courts about four times a week for up to five hours per session, says he’s hooked on the game and wants a public hearing to restore the courts.

“Just the fact that the Petersons are selling their house to someone new, it’s not going to trigger any action from parks,” Blatman said. “I don’t believe they’re going to do anything with Presidio Wall.” 

When asked whether the department plans to work with Presidio Wall pickleballers now that one of their main opponents has decamped, Rec and Parks spokesperson Daniel Montes responded curtly:

"Your question belies a profound misunderstanding about this issue and how we make decisions, which isn’t based on any particular individual. The truth is, we constantly balance opportunities to play with a responsibility to limit neighborhood congestion and other issues—not just with pickleball, but all sports communities."

As for the players' understanding of the issue, the exit of Holly—and her noise complaints—is a combination of best wishes and ’bout time. 

“Good for her,” said Bill Lafferty, Presidio Wall pickleball courts’ unofficial net keeper. “Life just rolls along.”