Bee Investigator

Hoops sitting streetside? Modesto calls a foul

Aaron Rodriguez (in red), Chris Heiny (in Warriors shirt), Sam Glover (under basket) and friends play basketball in the driveway of the Heiny home on Mayflower Street in north Modesto on Thursday.
Aaron Rodriguez (in red), Chris Heiny (in Warriors shirt), Sam Glover (under basket) and friends play basketball in the driveway of the Heiny home on Mayflower Street in north Modesto on Thursday.

Mobile homes and mobile hoops; most cities have rules regulating both.

Residents of Mayflower Street in north Modesto learned about the latter on Thursday when they received courtesy notices stating their basketball hoops can’t be left in the street or on the sidewalk.

“Those hoops have been out there since we moved there two years ago. … It’s never been an issue,” said Sean Carnahan, one of three residents who were warned they’d be fined if the hoops weren’t moved.

City code doesn’t expressly ban basketball hoops, but rather prohibits “anything of large or bulky nature” that obstructs a street or alley.

So it could be a tetherball pole or any other large item, said Chris Kemper, code enforcement officer for Modesto’s neighborhood preservation unit.

If it’s taking up parking space, getting in the way of street sweepers or otherwise blocking passage, it’s subject to a fine.

That’s true, too, for sidewalks. The code gives examples of wires, cables and garden hoses, but anything that poses a tripping hazard or impairs public use is prohibited.

Kemper said most complaints come from people who are handicapped and can’t easily get around the obstacles.

He said basketball hoops can be in the street while people use them, but must be moved afterward.

Still, Carnahan said he won’t move his hoop. He has two sons and he says as many as 20 kids who live on Mayflower and around the neighborhood come to play “tournaments” on the streets.

“It’s just pretty crappy that the kids are paying for it when they are doing the right thing by playing and staying out of trouble,” he said.

Code enforcement operates on a complaint-driven basis, so officers could be back on Mayflower, the next time with a citation instead of a warning. That basis also explains why residents in the neighborhood who have hoops out on other streets didn’t get warnings.

The citations start at $100, then increase to $250 for the second violation and $500 for the third.

Kemper said most code enforcement violations are remedied with a courtesy notice because people want to avoid those fees.

That’s the case with another issue brought to my attention by a reader who lives in southeast Modesto. She said a family with children was living out of a camper in the backyard of a home and wanted to know if it’s legal.

Most of the time, no.

If your house is damaged by fire, a tree falls on the roof or some other natural disaster prevents you from living in it, a permit can be obtained to allow you to stay in a motor home or trailer on the premises while the home is being rebuilt.

Kemper said the permits are free. The length of time for which they are issued is up to the building department but doesn’t exceed 120 days.

He said visitors can also stay in a recreational vehicle in front of a house for up to 72 hours. But don’t start running extension cords from the house to power the thing – remember the sidewalk trip hazard violation.

Kemper said motor home city dwelling is a rare complaint and also hard to prove.

Generally with motor homes and other recreational vehicles like boats, there are other violations for which code enforcement cites. For example, they sit too close to a house, overhang on a sidewalk or aren’t parked on an impervious surface. Some people have even paved over their lawns to get around the latter, which, incidentally, isn’t a code enforcement violation.

Have an item for Bee Investigator? Contact Erin Tracy: (209) 578-2366,, @ModestoBeeCrime