Sidewalks will need to be cleared of all obstructions with the onset of ordinances passed by the Keizer City Council.

The Keizer City Council voted to approve two ordinances that will have a limiting effect on when and where basketball hoops can be placed around the city. 

Under two new ordinances approved by the council at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3, basketball hoops will no longer be allowed on sidewalks at all. Additionally, placing them in local streets will only be allowed when owners and provide evidence of “active use.” 

The changes also require reflectors or reflective tape on both sides of basketball standards and prohibits placement entirely on streets where cars cannot park legally.

Outcry was swift and oppositional when Keizertimes posted the plan on social media last week, but that did not turn into dissent in council chambers. Only Keizer resident Jonathan Thompson spoke to the council seeking more discussion before taking action. 

“I’m not without empathy. I think it deserves a much larger conversation,” Thompson said. “When these standards are filled with sand and water they are not portable and they are heavy without it. I like that it is complaint-driven, but I challenge us to find a safe harbor.”

Thompson said he would be more amenable to changing the types of hoops allowed and suggested ones that bolted in directly to the sidewalk, allowing greater space for pedestrians. 

The first ordinance the council tackled prohibits any sidewalk obstructions aside from recreational vehicle electrical cords running across sidewalks, which also must be placed under a strip protector or use cones “or other devices” to warn sidewalk users. 

During discussion of the proposal, Councilor Kim Freeman said walking her own neighborhood is difficult with obstructions of various kinds blocking access. 

“If you have a kid walking alone or someone in a wheelchair, it’s an additional barrier,” Freeman said. 

Community Development Director Nate Brown noted that hoops are only one type of obstruction and the ordinance applies to any obstruction – vegetation to furniture. 

Councilor Dan Kohler said he felt conflicted about the basket ban. 

“I see kids enjoying basketball hoops and I have friends in wheelchairs,” he said.

Mayor Cathy Clark appeared to be the most unswayed, but she was willing to push for more work on the issue of basketball hoops. Clark suggested tasking the Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian (TBP) Committee with developing a “menu” of ADA-compliant alternatives to placing sporting equipment on or near sidewalks. 

The sidewalk obstruction ordinance ended up passing with a 5-1 vote. Reid opposed, Councilor Roland Herrera was absent. 

Next, the council took up the issue of placing basketball hoops on local streets. The proposed ordinance would have prohibited placing basketball standard in the streets unless they were actively in use and never between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. 

The notion of defining active use so stringently and assigning prohibited hours did not sit well with Reid who proposed leaving the term “active use” up to interpretation and removing the stipulation of prohibited hours. 

“I would rather leave active use up to interpretation so we don’t set ourselves up for a lot more enforcement than we bargain for,” Reid said. A friendly amendment to the proposed ordinance was accepted and the measure passed unanimously, but the council plans to ask the TBP committee to come up with more defined parameters for the term “active use.” 

When Reid asked Thompson what he would envision as a reasonable “active use” standard, Thompson replied used within the previous 15 days. 

Failure to reasonably comply could result in a $500 fine, but the intent of the new ordinances is to give the city’s code enforcement officer additional arrows in his quiver when seeking to handle nuisance complaints.