Council Members Fed Up With Street Basketball

CLEVELAND (AP) - Street basketball games must go, City Council says.

A 1976 city ordinance prohibits playing games or having toys in streets. Only 12 people have been cited under the law so far this year.

But council members Matt Zone and Joe Jones have begun a full-court press to rid the streets of portable basketball hoops that obstruct traffic or pedestrians.

Their weapon is a recently adopted amendment to the city law that allows police to confiscate the hoops after a second offense.

"Take them away," Jones said. "We've got basketball hoops all over the place."

A second offense also can mean up to a $500 fine under the revision, up from $100 for a first offense.

Zone and Jones have spread the word to players that police are more able to crack down. No one has been cited yet under the ordinance revision, but police are giving warnings.

One busy game spot is on West 54th Street, where even a three-point semicircle line is painted in the street. As long as the games end by 10 p.m., players said, no one complains.

Asked why they play in the street and not at a playground on West 65th Street, one player told The Plain Dealer: "We know everybody around here. If we go over to 65th, sometimes there's trouble."

Zone remembers waiting with his foot on the brake, as players glared into his headlights and took their time clearing the street. When he drove through, one player shouted a wisecrack and slammed a basketball into the side of his truck.

"That's the arrogance of some of these kids playing basketball in the streets," Zone said. "Total disregard for traffic and the law."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)