Ben Jenkins has lived most of his life in Lake Highlands, beginning with his days in Kindergarten at White Rock Elementary. Now he and wife Jennifer are raising three boys in the neighborhood. That’s why he admits to feeling frustrated and a little hurt to learn that someone, apparently a neighbor, has been pestering City of Dallas code enforcement officials about the basketball goal they keep on the front sidewalk of their White Rock Valley home.
Jenkins and two neighbors on his block of Crestedge received tickets Wednesday for “Use of a public right-of-way without a permit.” The fine is $286, and each day’s obstruction is deemed a separate offense. The code compliance folks say they’ll be back out today.
“Anyone know who the delightful person is that’s literally writing down street addresses with basketball goals in front yards and insisting City of Dallas code enforcement come out and write tickets? Code enforcement says this is exactly what’s happening, and they hate to write the tickets but have no choice because of this person,” shared Jenkins on social media. “I can’t believe someone has this kind of time on their hands and prefers kids play more video games inside.”
Jenkins says his family lives on a street with a steep back driveway, so positioning the rolling goal behind the house just won’t work. One son plays basketball for Lake Highlands Junior High, and his boys are out there all the time with friends and neighbors. He sees lots of other goals in front of houses as he walks his dog and says it’s a shame they may all have to be taken down.
John Rudebeck, another Crestedge resident, says his family’s goal sat in the same spot on their side yard for 13 years before they recently received a notice of violation. They’ve been moving the goal around in attempts to keep regulators (and neighborhood kids) happy.
Kimberly Elliott’s family has already gotten rid of their goal – just two days after acquiring it. Their notice of violation from the city arrived in the first week – with threats of a hefty fine.
“Our kids are heartbroken,” Elliott said.
“This is so upsetting,” agrees neighbor Kelli Weitzel. “The code compliance officer said once they don’t go looking for goals to fine, someone has to complain. It’s so good for kids to have a way to exercise outside and socialize. This is a family community. I’m sure it’s the same person calling in all the goals. So sad to me. If there is an issue with placement, have the decency to knock on a neighbor’s door first. Ugh.”
Jenkins’ ticket notes that he has violated city code 43-117(a), which states that “A person using or occupying a public right-of-way for a private use in violation of this division or without a license or other permit granted by the city is guilty of an offense and, upon conviction, is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 for each day that the violation exists.” John Heim with the City of Dallas’ Right-of-Way Permit Management office says “there’s no such thing” as a permit for a basketball goal.
“This should not be a ticket,” Heim told me, with genuine sympathy for the families working to fight city hall and frustration over their conundrum. “Somebody (writing those tickets) is just being a knucklehead.”
Heim encouraged me to call the code compliance office on Goforth Drive for help (214-671-9605), but no one there answered the phone or returned my voicemails Wednesday. Heim’s advice for neighbors is to roll the goal back up to the house after each use to avoid earning a daily fine.
Update at 9:15 a.m.: Alice from Dallas code compliance called this morning after the story posted. She said basketball goals “should be placed in driveways or in backyards,” and that “children should not be playing in the street.” Alice said “blocking the sidewalk is a safety hazard, and that code enforcement officers “must respond if they drive through a neighborhood and see a violation or if a violation is called in.” When asked if it’s possible that one neighbor could use reporting violations by another neighbor for mischief, revenge or the simple joy of being crotchety, Alice said, “We can’t get involved in that. We must handle the violation. We do not have discretion.”