Council extends Tennacity’s contract

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West Hollywood City Council on Monday night sought to allay tensions between the pickleball and tennis communities while extending the contract of Tennacity LLC, which provides the city with pickleball and tennis concessions operations and services.

Recreation Services Manager Stephanie Martinez, along with Recreation Supervisor Michael Gasa and Recreation Coordinator Dana Alhadad, presented the staff report. Martinez explained that the city initiated a request for proposal (RFP) process on January 11, 2024, to find a qualified vendor for managing pickleball and tennis facilities. They contacted 32 potential vendors and advertised the RFP on Planetbids.com, receiving nine proposals by the deadline.

On February 22, 2024, a pre-proposal meeting was held for interested vendors to tour the city’s pickleball and tennis facilities. Thirteen vendors attended. The nine proposals received were from Goran Sports Management, HCIP, It Tennis, Pickle Rally Zone, Southern California Tennis Association, Tennacity LLC, Tennis Innovators, West Hollywood Tennis and Pickleball, and Zen Courts WeHo. The proposals were evaluated by a panel of internal and external raters using a rubric and interviews, focusing on key criteria such as concessionaire information, service plans, cost, revenue-sharing model, and proposer interviews.

Tennacity LLC emerged as the highest-rated proposer with a score of 271, surpassing the other eight proposals, which scored between 255 and 132. Based on this evaluation, staff recommended entering into a three-year agreement with Tennacity, with an option to extend for up to two additional one-year terms. The recommendation was based on Tennacity’s demonstrated ability to deliver high-quality services and beneficial outcomes for the community’s pickleball and tennis programs. Additional information about the RFP process was provided in a memo to the City Council and the public.

During public comment, Callie Rogers, a 10-year resident of West Hollywood, expressed concerns about the selection process and the chosen vendor, Tennacity LLC. She criticized the lack of community input in the selection process and highlighted several issues with Tennacity’s past performance, including poor maintenance of facilities and inadequate service. Rogers urged the council to reconsider awarding the contract to Tennacity.

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Resident Teresa Chang supported Tennacity, praising their efficient online system, prompt updates on court conditions, and helpful staff. She compared Tennacity’s services favorably to those of Beverly Hills Tennis, highlighting the advantages of Tennacity’s automated systems and staff responsiveness.

Carolyn Cohen, a resident since 2018, spoke on behalf of over 200 community members who signed a petition supporting Tennacity. She emphasized Tennacity’s role in fostering a welcoming community atmosphere and their efficient business operations. Cohen, a CPA and business owner, appreciated Tennacity’s professional approach and the diverse range of activities they offered, which catered to various skill levels.

Andrew Solomon acknowledged the council’s support for pickleball initiatives but voiced concerns about the vendor selection process. He noted numerous complaints about Tennacity’s service quality over the past year and emphasized the need for the Public Facilities Commission (PFC) to review the selection. Solomon urged the council to vote against the item and reconsider the process to ensure community input.

Josh Oswald, the CEO of Tennacity, expressed gratitude to the city and council for recommending Tennacity for the contract. He acknowledged the concerns raised and thanked the council for their care and consideration in the selection process. He emphasized their core values of bringing people together, prioritizing inclusion, and ensuring high-quality experiences. Oswald shared their motto of improving by 1% daily and discussed plans for expanding their pickleball and tennis programs at Plummer Park and West Hollywood Park. These plans include affordable classes, lessons, open play, and innovative events, along with technological enhancements and community feedback systems. 

Following Oswald, Nicole Pton raised concerns about the community engagement portion of the staff report, particularly regarding the quarterly customer feedback mechanism. Pton questioned whether the current contractor, Tennacity, had implemented such feedback mechanisms and whether these factors were considered in the decision to extend the contract. She also inquired about the possibility of shorter contracts to better address community needs and concerns.

Councilmember Lauren Meister requested clarification on Pton’s questions, prompting Pton to reiterate her points about the importance of community feedback and the evaluation of the current contractor’s performance. She emphasized the need to consider these factors when making contract decisions. Pton’s remarks highlighted the community’s desire for a more inclusive and responsive vendor selection process.

The final public speaker, Boris Kados, shared a personal story about the impact of Tennacity’s community on a young girl named Hana Desi. He detailed how Tennacity’s support helped Hana receive training and opportunities that led to the creation of the Love All scholarship program. Kados praised Tennacity for fostering a diverse and inclusive environment at Plummer Park and West Hollywood Park, contributing to the community’s overall well-being and development.

Meister asked staff about public concerns regarding the program. Staff acknowledged ongoing issues, such as notification delays and reservation difficulties, but also praised Tennacity’s responsiveness and collaboration. Meister suggested addressing these concerns through agenda items in the Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Recreation Commission to allow for public discussion and resolution.

Councilmember Sepi Shyne expressed opposition to renewing the contract with Tennacity, citing community concerns about inadequate service and lack of engagement. Shyne emphasized the importance of listening to the community and suggested extending the contract for a few months to gather more input and reassess the vendor selection process. She highlighted the need for improvement in Tennacity’s services, particularly in inclusivity and customer satisfaction.

Shyne proposed continuing the contract for three to six months to allow for comprehensive community feedback and re-evaluation. She supported Meister’s idea of an agenda item to facilitate public discussion and ensure that the community’s voice is heard in the decision-making process. Shyne stressed the need for a more thorough and transparent evaluation of vendors based on community input.

The city clerk clarified that the Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Recreation Commission does not have the authority to review contract recommendations, as their purview is limited to discussing recreation programs and facility usage. The Human Services Commission is the only body with the authority to review contracts, but only for social services providers. 

Meister suggested adding a standing item on the agenda for public discussion about recreation programming, especially pickleball and tennis. However, City Attorney Lauren Langer pointed out a logistical issue: four out of seven Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Recreation Commission members had already commented, which constitutes a majority, making it challenging to refer the matter back to the PFC without violating procedural norms.

Shyne expressed her concerns about the community’s voice not being adequately heard in the RFP process for selecting Tennacity LLC. She emphasized the need for genuine community input and suggested extending the current contract by three to six months to gather more feedback and reassess the selection criteria. Shyne highlighted the dissatisfaction among LGBTQ community members and women regarding the services provided by Tennacity

Councilmember Meister supported moving forward with the contract while addressing concerns through agenda items in the Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Recreation Commission. Meister noted that issues with service providers are common but believed they should be dealt with transparently. She proposed that future complaints be handled by the commission to ensure public concerns are addressed.

Shyne clarified her previous statements, emphasizing the importance of community outreach to gather input from all community members regarding the pickleball and tennis services. She proposed that the Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Recreation Commission be involved in this outreach but not participate in the decision-making process. Shyne highlighted the need for actual community feedback to be considered in the evaluation and scoring process for the vendor selection. 

Councilmember John Heilman thanked the public speakers and posed questions to the staff about the new agreement’s requirement for quarterly customer satisfaction reports. Staff confirmed that a customer feedback mechanism is already in place on Tennacity’s website and that they would continue to monitor it. Heilman inquired about Tennacity’s responsiveness to complaints, and staff confirmed that Josh Oswald has been prompt and effective in addressing any issues that arise.

Staff explained that when they receive complaints, they immediately follow up with Josh, who takes swift action to resolve them. This includes offering refunds, inviting the complainants to discuss their concerns, and ensuring that issues are addressed promptly. Staff highlighted the importance of balancing playtime and managing the needs of different groups, noting that the city has the final say on scheduling and other operational decisions.

Heilman raised concerns about the condition of the nets, to which staff responded that it is the city’s responsibility, not Tennacity’s. Staff clarified that any renovations or equipment upgrades are coordinated with the city’s facilities team. Heilman noted that there will always be complaints with any service provider and emphasized that the city’s role is to have an open and fair evaluation process, which has been done. He supported staff’s recommendation to renew Tennacity’s contract but suggested having a regular forum for addressing public concerns.

Vice Mayor Chelsea Lee Byers acknowledged the rapid growth of pickleball and the challenges it has posed, often leading to conflicts between tennis and pickleball communities. She pointed out that the small size of the evaluation panel might have contributed to the feeling among pickleball players that their concerns were not fully represented. Byers suggested that the panel’s composition might need to be reconsidered to ensure broader representation in future evaluations.

Byers expressed uncertainty about moving forward with the contract renewal without addressing the underlying tensions and ensuring a more inclusive process. She supported the idea of a shortened contract extension to allow for further community outreach and reevaluation. Byers emphasized the need for the city to serve as a model of resolving conflicts and creating a harmonious recreational environment.

Mayor John M. Erickson thanked the public and the staff for their contributions and acknowledged the hard work of the Parks and Recreation department. He clarified the responsibilities regarding equipment maintenance, confirming that while the city is responsible for inspecting and maintaining tennis nets, the new agreement would shift the responsibility for pickleball nets to the contractor due to past supply chain issues.

Council deliberated on the best approach to address community concerns while ensuring high-quality recreational services. They considered extending the contract for a few months to gather more community input and reassess the vendor selection process. 

Erickson clarified a procedural question about what would happen if the council did not approve the contract renewal with Tennacity that night. Staff confirmed that without approval, the city would not have a provider by the end of the month. Erickson emphasized his intent to find common ground and acknowledged the community’s involvement and concerns, especially given the significant public interest in pickleball and tennis issues.

Shyne and Erickson discussed the tensions within the community regarding the vendor selection process, noting the need for a solution that considers all perspectives. Erickson highlighted the importance of community feedback and acknowledged the public’s role in shaping decisions, such as the introduction of the Pride pickleball tournament. He suggested extending the current contract with Tennacity for six months to allow for more comprehensive community involvement and input.

He noted that members of the Public Facilities Commission (PFC) had already provided public comments, which raised potential Brown Act issues. Erickson stressed the importance of having knowledgeable individuals involved in the evaluation process and the need to engage the community effectively.

Heilman supported the contract extension but sought clarification on what the council expected to achieve during the six-month period. He expressed concern about the idea of redoing the entire bid process but was open to gathering more community feedback on Tennacity’s operations and resolving the tensions between tennis and pickleball users. Heilman emphasized that changing the evaluation process solely to achieve a particular result could be problematic.

Erickson agreed with Heilman’s points and clarified that the intention was to gather more feedback and address the community’s concerns rather than restart the bid process. He acknowledged that while there will always be issues with any service provider, the goal is to ensure a fair and transparent process that includes the community’s input.

Erickson summarized the motion, which included extending the contract for six months and working with the community to improve dialogue and conflict resolution for both tennis and pickleball. He acknowledged that both sports have their issues and emphasized the need for a balanced approach.

The motion was seconded by Byers and passed with a 5-0 vote. 

 

 

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Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

While the Public Facilities Commission does not have jurisdiction to approve contracts, it does have an implied responsibility to insure that contractors are providing adequate services. There is no reason for the PFC to not hold hearings to get the public’s input on the tennis/pickle ball court use and administration. That does not mean the Commission approves the contract but it means staff would have adequate input from an interested Commission before making a recommendation. This is just part of a disturbing pattern were City staff finds ways to avoid public input rather than embrace it. Makes you wonder why… Read more »

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