Monday, June 30, 2008

Alameda to Ban Throwing of Balls in City Parks

The Alameda City Council will be meeting this Tuesday to ratify a complete ban on ball-throwing in city parks.

Two weeks ago, the city council, not paying attention due to their uncontainable excitement to discuss the annual budget, gleefully crafted an outright ban on ball-throwing in Alameda parks unless there was signage specifically allowing it.

"We're worried that somebody might hurt somebody else by throwing a ball at them," said Mayor Beverly Johnson, leader of the ball ban. "Even if somebody is throwing a ball directly to somebody else, they might get hurt if the ball isn't thrown just so. So we think it's better to just prohibit ball-throwing entirely."

The ball-throwing ban came out of a discussion on banning cars from the parking garage next to the Super-Mega-Monster-Plex That Everyone Hates. Mayor Johnson decided that it made sense to include balls as well as (or instead of) cars. She may have gotten confused between the term "park" and "parking lot," perhaps attributable to her excitement over staying up late to talk about the city's finances.

The decision did not come without considerable debate. "What if somebody needs to walk through the park, and they are transporting a ball?" asked one council member (who shall remain unnamed) during the meeting. Mayor Johnson's response: "That's fine, as long as they hold it with both hands and do not toss it up in the air or bounce it on the ground."

The council passed the ban after three minutes' discussion.

Due to the structure of the City Charter, the ban must be voted upon twice. The council has been issued transcripts of their previous meeting so they can re-enact the entire discussion, word-for-word, this Tuesday.

Many community leaders are expected to attend the Council meeting to protest the decision, not that this would amount to anything. Representatives of the Alameda Little League, the Alameda Girls' Softball Association, the Alameda Ball-Throwing Club, and many others have pledged to use up their entire 30-seconds' allotted public speaking time to speak up on behalf of balls and ball-throwers. "Where else are my children expected to throw balls? We've had too many broken windows in our neighborhood to allow the children to play baseball in the street, and those ubiquitous basketball hoops are no longer allowed," said Geoff Mitchell-Davies, executive director of Let's Play Ball Alameda. "What does the City Council want our parks to be used for, if not playing?"

The mayor's office declined to comment.


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