Ten object to city agreement with Seal Beach Pickleball Association

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This week 10 individuals called on the council to rescind the recent vote to approve an agreement between the city and the Seal Beach Pickleball Association. The public comment segment of the April 25 meeting lasted roughly 50 minutes or so. (Two comments were unrelated to the pickleball agreement.)

Space doesn’t permit quoting everyone.

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa, who terms out this year, is president of the nonprofit pickleball group.

After Monday’s meeting, Varipapa smiled as he politely declined to respond to the comments.


At the April 11 meeting, the council voted 3-1 to approve a memorandum of understanding between the SBPA and Seal Beach for the purpose of promoting pickleball at the Seal Beach Tennis and Pickleball Center. The dissenting vote was cast by District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic, who pulled the item from the Consent Calendar.

At that time, the city received 68 emails or letters on the subject. Three messages opposed the agreement. One of the three messages was signed by eight individuals.

Varipapa recused himself from the April 11 discussion, leaving the room until after the vote.

According to critics of the agreement, at issue are the role of the Pickleball Association at the center and whether the council member took advantage of his position on the council to get the agreement approved.

April 25 comments

One of the speakers at the April 25 meeting, Marilyn Cicerone, read a letter to the council, which she submitted the Letters to the Editor. She accused the councilman of shrouding the agreement in secrecy.

Ray Ybaben called on members of the cable TV (and internet) audience to support the opposition to the pickleball memorandum of understanding. Ybaben said he believes the city has a crisis concerning the MOU. He said a council member became enamored of pickleball. He accused Varipapa (without using his name) of using his position to pursue his passion.

Ybaben said that, somehow, the City Council had no problem with it.

“There was no pickleball,” said  Brenda Danielson, the tennis pro at the Seal Beach Tennis and Pickleball Center. “I built the entire program from the start.”

She said she created a nonprofit, Friends of the Seal Beach Tennis Center.

“I’ve brought $30,000 to the center,” Danielson said.

She listed many items she had purchased for the center. However, she reached the end of the 5-minute time limit for public comments.

The memorandum

The memorandum of understanding is six pages long. The following is a brief summary of some items in the MOU.

According to page 2, under “Responsibilities,” the city agrees “That SBPA [Seal Beach Pickleball Association] is hearby designated as the primary entity to coordinate and promote Pickleball activity at the SBTPC [Seal Beach Tennis and Pickleball Center].”

The second city agreement says the city will continue to own and manage the center at the city’s expense.

The third city agreement says “City shall designate a staff contact to work the SBPA and participate in meetings with SBPA at least quarterly.”

The fifth city agreement says Seal Beach will set  hours for members and other rules necessary to promote pickleball.

The ninth city agreement says the city will consider SBPA requests for support, but won’t be required to approve the requests.

The 10th agreement says the city will use the revenue from SBPA activities for the benefit of the center.

For the Seal Beach Pickleball Association’s part:

The eighth SBPA agreement says the group will give the city a minimum of 30 days notice of scheduled organized events. If the event involves 100 or more people, the notice will include a written event plan.

The 13th SBPA agreement says “SBPA shall report to City in writing, at least annually, on SBPA’s activities and accomplishments under this MOU and provide to City a copy of SBA’s annual tax return timely filed with the State of California.”

The 15th SBPA agreement says the group will have a $1 million insurance policy that covers the city and city staff.

The 16th SBPA agreement says “SBPA shall pay to the City, not less than quarterly, ten percent (10%) of the net proceeds of SBPA’s merchandise sales, food and beverage sales and event revenue from its activities at the SBPTC.”