- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - The Lake Charles City Council has approved an ordinance that will prohibit residents from playing basketball on any city street or public right of way.

Wednesday’s decision was part of a revised amendment approved by the council addressing the city’s code on athletic equipment on neutral ground.

The American Press reports (https://bit.ly/1HTL0c3 ) Councilman Rodney Geyen proposed the changes to a draft of the ordinance presented to the council during the meeting. The draft said that before 8 p.m. it would not be against the law for residents to play basketball in the street if the players were not obstructing traffic. Geyen asked that the time period be removed from the ordinance, prohibiting basketball and any other type of recreational activity in the street unless related to an authorized city event.

“I have had this type of problem in my neighborhood. We’ve had some hard heads out there that just refuse to obey the law and when people are trying to pass by, they won’t let them. They give them ugly looks as though they own the street,” Geyen said.

Councilwoman Luvertha August compared the idea of making a law saying there should be no playground activities in the street to the original law requiring all drivers to wear seat belts. She said public rights of way should not be public playgrounds and that the city shouldn’t sanction playing in the street.

“When the seat belt laws were passed, people protested that. It was going to wrinkle their clothes, and they didn’t see why they had to have it because they had insurance and had never had an accident,” August said. “There were all kinds of protests, yet the law passed and everyone adjusted to it and is doing well.”

Dana Jackson spoke out against the council voting on the item during the meeting. He said he would have preferred to give those residents who had previously approved the draft of the ordinance a chance to hear the changes that were being proposed. Jackson also described how the ordinance could affect residents who abide by current city laws.

“The ones that don’t respect other people’s right to pass, that’s the ones we’re after. We have some good ones that get out of the way, way before someone gets to them. The ones we’re after are the ones that block the street. We’re just going to such an extreme here,” Jackson said. “The ones who respect the law and respect the passage of people, I don’t think we should be penalizing those people.”

The council approved the amended ordinance with two council members voting against it - Jackson and council President Stuart Weatherford.

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Information from: American Press, https://www.americanpress.com


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