July 18, 2023
The RSFA July Board meeting had an interesting discussion about pickleball courts. At issue was a recommendation from staff and the Art Jury to grant a regulation variance to allow a pickleball court to be built.
The RSFA Regulatory Code disallows sports courts (which means tennis courts, basketball court, pickleball courts, etc.) to be built on any parcel less than 2 acres in size.
A homeowner with a slightly smaller lot size (1.97 acres) went through the Art Jury process asking to build a Pickleball court. The Art Jury determined that the proposed location otherwise met all Art Jury criteria (away from neighbors, so no noise issues, well screened, so no sight issues, on flat ground, etc.), and so recommended a variance be granted for the only unmet criteria of 2 acre lot size.
The Board voted 6-1 to grant the variance.
While pickleball courts are about 1/4 the size of tennis courts, they are noisier due to the ball/paddle noise and frequent overly enthusiastic point celebrations. As an HOA, it is thus very important that noise considerations play an important part in granting their construction.
Interestingly, the current sport court regulation (chapter 45 of the Regulatory Code) makes no mention of noise as an Art Jury consideration. As Beth Nelson (current Art Juror President) stated during the July Board meeting, the current Art Jury does take noise into consideration when granting sport court permits, but other Art Juries might not.
As I pointed out in a forum post which started off about gas powered leaf blowers but devolved into a discussion about noise regulations, the Association’s governing documents are, well, silent on noise issues. Several members have reached out to me over the past year about various different types of noise complaints. So I’ve asked that the Board discuss the desirability of asking staff to come up with an RSFA noise regulation. We will hopefully discuss this in the August Board meeting.
PLEASE do yourself a favor and go through the Art Jury process when contemplating building any type of sport court. Unless you live on a 100 acre lot, the sport court will be noticed and seen or heard by neighbors, so it isn’t as if you can do the construction without someone noticing. While the Association doesn’t do random spot checks, it does respond to complaints. And yes, the Association does have the authority to require homeowners to rip out unapproved construction, along with fining power to back it up (going all the way to liens and eventual foreclosure should it get really nasty).
It really isn’t the end of the world if you can’t build a tennis or pickleball court. The Association has a great tennis/pickleball club about five minutes away from wherever you live in Rancho.
By the way, I’ve often seen people get confused about the court color regulation on all sport courts. The regulation says:
45.0606 Surface Colors. Tennis Court and/or Recreation Area playing surfaces which can be viewed from off-site locations, shall be turf or colored forest green or other such muted colors, as approved by the Art Jury.
This only applies IF the court surface can be viewed from outside your lot. Usually, a fence with a green colored wind screen, or a larger lot would be sufficient to mitigate such views to allow the current popular blue colors like this:
But if you can’t put in such fencing, or topography allows neighbors to see down into the court, then shades of forest green would be more appropriate: