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Neighbors are unhappy the city didn't close George Rogers Park courts while looking for alternative locations.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Residents in the Old Town neighborhood may file a lawsuit to get the city of Lake Oswego to remove pickleball from George Rogers Park courts immediately.

Residents of the Old Town neighborhood are lawyering up and considering filing a lawsuit against the city of Lake Oswego for keeping the George Rogers Park pickleball courts open amid a search for alternative sites.

Three households have retained Bullivant Houser Bailey attorney Leta Gorman to represent them against the city. Jon Gustafson, who lives across the street from the courts, said in an interview that they would explore alternatives to filing a lawsuit but that doing so may be the step they need to take to get the sport removed from the park.

"We have tried everything we can think of as far as working with the city to avoid that. We're at the point where we don't feel like we have much of a choice," he said.

He added that the legal effort is supported by a group of neighbors including City Council candidate Ali Afghan, who was quoted in a news release sent to Pamplin Media Group. Gustafson clarified that the Old Town Neighborhood Association is supportive of efforts to close the courts, but is not directly involved in the legal efforts.

"The entire neighborhood is behind this," Old Town Neighborhood Association board member Derrith Lambka said in the release. "This isn't an issue just for the homeowners immediately next to the courts."

Neighbors who live near the courts have said that the incessant and loud noise made by the play of pickleball has harmed their quality of life and mental health. They voiced their qualms to the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and City Council, leading the council to begin the process of finding a different location for the courts.

However, while the parks board recommended that the city close the courts for six months in the meantime, the council declined to take that action. The city recently enlisted a task force to help determine the location of the new courts and that group is slated to provide a recommended location to City Council in November. Gustafson surmised that the process would take too long.

"We can't continue to live like this while they explore where to put it, find out (how) to pay for it, go through the land use process and then build it," he said.

Gustafson cited the city's noise ordinance — which states that "It shall be unlawful for any person to create, assist in creating, permit, continue or permit the continuance of any unnecessary loud or disturbing noise in the City at any time of day" as potential legal footing. However, he said the specific legal strategies have yet to be decided.

"I think the case is easy to prove — that this is a nuisance and the city knows it's a nuisance," Gustafson said.

The Old Town neighbor also referenced what is known as the right to quiet enjoyment, which is typically cited in landlord and tenant law.

As Gustafson noted, legal disputes surrounding pickleball are not uncommon. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "legal claims against municipalities in California and across the country have forced similar resolutions (removing pickleball), because volume levels associated with pickleball violate noise restriction ordinances for residential areas."

Gustafson said that people who don't live near pickleball courts often don't comprehend just how debilitating the noise can be.

"It's the repetitive impact that just doesn't go away. It's like an echo. It is like pop, pop, pop, pop, a high-pitched sound that even when they stop playing you can still hear the popping in your head because it's been going on and on," he said.

Afghan, in the release, compared the noise to construction workers wielding four or five hammers.

Mayor Joe Buck declined to comment, citing the city's policy not to air opinions on pending litigation.

Payers have said that the local government shouldn't close the George Rogers Park courts before opening a new location, as there aren't any other courts in the community.


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