WeHo Council Votes to Raise Tennis Reservation Fees and Provide Free Weekday Courts

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In a move unlikely to satisfy some tennis players, the West Hollywood City Council last night voted to ensure that at least two of the seven tennis courts in Plummer Park remain open for play without reservations.

tennis-balls-and-racketsThe Council adopted a recommendation by the city’s Department of Human Services and Rent Stabilization, which includes the city’s recreation employees, that also would make two courts available for reservations and allow iTennis, a city contractor, to use no more than four courts at any time for tennis lessons. In July iTennis will levy a fee of $8 an hour for play on reserved courts. Currently the fee charged for use of the reserved courts is $5 per hour for residents and $7 an hour for non-residents.

At the recommendation of Councilmember John Duran, the Council added a provision that reserved courts be available for free on a first-come basis from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. The Council also asked that city staffers consider ways to make the courts available free-of-charge to low income, elderly or disabled people.

The measure passed on a three-to-one vote, with Mayor John D’Amico opposing it. D’Amico said that the contract the city signed last year with iTennis to manage the courts is flawed. Under the contract, iTennis uses some of the city-owned courts to provide group and private tennis lessons and manages all seven courts. The city receives 10 percent of iTennis revenue related to Plummer Park.

“It seems like we’re giving up a city resource for him to make a lot of money to provide a reservation service that’s not working,” D’Amico said, referring to iTennis owner John Letts. “I can do the math. If he’s teaching 30 people tennis on three courts a night, that’s a lot of money … And we’re not getting much … I think we signed a bad contract.

Duran advocated increasing the court fee to $8 an hour to reduce the incentive for tennis players outside West Hollywood to use the city’s courts rather than those at nearby Poinsettia Park in Los Angeles, where the fee is already $8 an hour.

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“Like most things in the city of West Hollywood it comes down to a matter of demand and supply,” Duran said.

He also said that requiring tennis players to reserve courts makes sense given that many are busy and can’t afford to sit and wait until a court opens.

But sitting and waiting for a court was a part of the process that some tennis players enjoyed according to tennis players who spoke at the Council meeting. “The change has disrupted the entire regimen of the courts. People would come to play, pick a court, wait their turn … Come at any time they choose,” said longtime player Oscar Ringel. He and others talked about how they got to know one another during the wait and engaged in pickup games.

The Council adopted the reservation proposal after Ringel and other long-time tennis players objected that iTennis was reserving the courts during peak hours for its own use to offer tennis lessons — a major source of its income.

Currently under iTennis management, tennis courts in Plummer Park can be reserved Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reservations are limited to two hours per session. When they are not reserved or being used by iTennis for lessons, the courts are available to anyone. The fee charged for use of the courts is $5 per hour for residents and $7 an hour for non-residents.

Under the proposal adopted last night, the courts will be open on Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 a.m. without reservations or fees. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., four of the courts will be available for open play and three to four could be used for lessons. All courts would be available for open play from 7 to 10 p.m. On weekends, all seven courts would be available for open play at no charge from 7 to 8 a.m. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., four to five courts would be available for reservation, with two reserved for iTennis lessons. All courts would be available for open play from 7 to 10 p.m. That means iTennis would not be able to use the courts for more than nine hours a day for lessons. According to the staff report, it now averages four to six hours a day.

The open court and court reservation hours wouldn’t apply during special events, such as iTennis’s monthly round robin tournament, which requires four courts. The city has three tennis courts at West Hollywood Park that are available without reservations or fees.

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Shawn Thompson
9 years ago

John Duran sure thought it was a good deal by driving the council to vote this way. It was another sad day in the #weho democracy to watch, person, after person speak in opposition to what was on the table as far as CHANGES from the city staff and only the Mayor listened and in the end went on record and agreed with all the public present that got their 2 mins to be heard and spoke the obvious truth that the contract with ITENNIS wasn’t serving the community right. . But Duran ignored all the public commentators and did… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
9 years ago

Once again it is Mayor John D’Amico who is looking out for the residents.
Steve Martin

Justin Ryan Houck
Justin Ryan Houck
9 years ago

I am somewhat new to Weho, but I have to say that Itennis people do an amazing job. I have not seen the previous system in action, but i have seen the types of people that support this system. It is a total scam, and if you can’t make a court reservation nor afford the 5$ an hour, you probably should find another sport or location to play. Half of the ones complaining don’t even live IN weho proper nor pay weho taxes like the rest of us. The others are old and crusty and really scam the courts for… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
9 years ago

Oh boy, what a mess! At least one council member John D’Amico knows math and realizes that this is a BAD deal for the city and the tennis players and a great deal for iTennis. I’m still trying to digest the following justification for a 60% fee increase: “Duran advocated increasing the court fee to $8 an hour to reduce the incentive for tennis players outside West Hollywood to use the city’s courts rather than those at nearby Poinsettia Park in Los Angeles, where the fee is already $8 an hour.” In what world does this logic make sense when… Read more »

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