HOA Tries To Put An End To Scourge Of Sidewalk Chalk

America’s sidewalks are fraught with dangers — discarded gum, intrusive plant life, cracks that could do damage to mothers’ backs, falling pianos and/or safes — and now a homeowners association in Denver is out to put an end to one pernicious pain in the you-know-what: sidewalk chalk.

One Denver woman says her HOA would rather not have her 3-year-old daughter creating her temporal chalk art on the sidewalks of their neighborhood.

“My initial reaction was, ‘You have to be kidding me,'” the mom tells Denver’s CBS 4.

She says her family chose this house because the area was supposed to be family-friendly and they liked the idea of living on a courtyard.

“We all bought into the notion that we were sharing a space,” she explains.

But it’s the fact that her daughter’s work — a unique blend of post-paint, post-literal and outsider art — is being created on this shared space that apparently has the HOA’s hackles raised.

Even though the mom says she’s heard no gripes about the chalk art, CBS 4 says the HOA claims there have been complaints about the art somehow offending, disturbing or interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of the space.

Everyone’s a critic.

In a statement that reads like two partial statements, a lawyer for the HOA tells CBS, “The association is trying to go down a path of do no harm and prevent the sidewalk art as opposed to… until such time as it can get together and discuss it.”

It looks like the issue will ultimately be decided by a vote of residents at one of those meetings that are often only attended by the most uptight factions within the HOA.

In the meantime, the mom says she and her little girl will continue their artful protest: “It’s summertime and God forbid my daughter is drawing flowers, her name and hearts.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. JHDarkLeg says:

    The HOA’s likely within their rights, but then again, that’s why HOA’s are evil.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I thought this was a story about the TSA?

    • PsychoRaven says:

      Yup. It’s why I’ll never live in an area with one. If I own my property who is some snob down the street to tell me what I can and can not do on my property?

    • sixsevenco says:

      This link does not show the actual properties in question, but this should give a sense of what these courtyard houses are like. Most people enter through the garage in the back of the house, and the kids play in the huge front, shared yard.


  2. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    You have to be kidding me, too. Would the HOA prefer children be doing something noisy instead of drawing?

    • Remmy75 says:

      I am sure they would prefer if they were out only during certain days and times. Kind of like garbage cans!

  3. PHRoG says:

    *shakes fist*

    Get off everyones lawn dag-nabbit!

    *waddles away*

  4. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Only one course of action: Chalk dong drawings on the sidewalks in front of the houses of each asshole HOA member.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      I was thinking something similar. 2am flash mob to chalk the biggest HOA aholes houses!

      • sixsevenco says:

        I can see something like this actually happening, but more likely at 2pm. The moms in this community are very active in a yahoo group called “Stapleton Moms”. I am sure this issue is already ablaze with discussion. I wouldn’t be surprised if a “chalk-in” was scheduled in the near future.

    • Eagle Eye says:

      This tactic will without a doubt lead the HOA to come to their senses and allow chalk drawing

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Perhaps if she chalked in the style of Classicism or High Renaissance
    instead of those damn Cubists or Fauvism, this never would have happened.

  6. MPD01605 says:

    I started to type three different sarcastic/possible solution comments and decided that this is so ridiculous that it doesn’t warrant such a response.

  7. finbar says:

    I am SHOCKED to learn that an HOA is over-reacting to something harmless.

    • vastrightwing says:

      .. then my friend, I recommend taking a visit to a place called Sugar Land TX. There you will find TONS of HOA communities. Talk to the residents. LOL.

  8. catskyfire says:

    I can understand someone getting upset for two reasons: One, do they feel it’s then “not okay” to walk on those drawings? And, if the drawings are all over, do they feel unable to move freely. Two, it can be annoying to find you’ve tracked chalk in onto your own carpet.

    My first thought, in all honesty, is why not draw on her own driveway or sidewalk. But I’m getting old, and was a little bugged that the neighbors kid drew on my sidewalk (but not their own).

    • yellowdog says:

      No need to feel bad about getting old and curmudgeonly. I get irritated when the local kids (maybe 7 – 11 years old) briefly use my driveway as a turnaround point when they’re riding bikes up and down the sidewalks. But I don’t say anything, or even shoot them evil looks. Heck, I guess it’s better than them spray painting my garage door. Older I get, crankier I get.

    • sixsevenco says:

      I live in Stapleton in one of these courtyards. Our houses are very close together, but we get to share the benfit of having a HUGE front yard. If you choose to live in one of these courtyards, you need to have a level of patience and acceptance of your neighbors behaviors.

    • Craige says:

      “it can be annoying to find you’ve tracked chalk in onto your own carpet”

      Do people actually walk around in their house with shoes on? If so, they should have already accepted they’re tracking in dirt and mud anyway.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      I get it. I live in an apartment complex where my next door neighbor’s door is about six inches from mine, and their kid chalked the shared stair to the doors. At first I was all “Dagnabit! Little rascal!” Then I thought “They never give me a hard time, and we all gotta be a little tolerant and forgiving when living so close together.” So I got over it.

      Sounds like the HOA got stalled in “Dagnabit!” mode.

  9. CubeRat says:

    OMG, my snowflack is being critized…..the HOA hates art.

    ‘”We all bought into the notion that we were sharing a space,” she explains.’
    –by which she means “So everyone must bow down to the awsome talent of my child!!!”

    Take your child to an art class, or give her paper and crayons and STFU.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      You’re an idiot. It’s not about “her” child. It’s the fact that they don’t want any children drawing on the sidewalk. These are people who prefer children to not be seen *or* heard for fear that their property value will drop if the disturbing sound of children’s laughter break their sacred silence.

    • Kate says:

      Um, what – did you have a deprived childhood or something? Children playing in a public space is normal and healthy, not shut up in their house not being seen.

      What part of family friendly do you not understand?

    • Greggen says:

      Actually, the shared space can be used by the children. They are residents of the community and deserve to use it in ways that do not damage said shared space.

      If any of the other residents do not like it they shut their curtains and STFU.

  10. 2 Replies says:

    HOAs can suck it.
    You bought the place, you own the place.

    • sufreak says:

      While I don’t like HOA’s, by your logic..you also bought the place knowing it was part of an HOA.

      • Hibyeman says:

        sometimes HOA’s spring up around where you live or where you are moving to with out you knowing this could have happened to them and on top of that you never expect them to do something this stupid this is fun for a 4 year old it will not pass.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          Although I agree with you in principle, I’m tempted to argue because you didn’t use any punctuation…

  11. Outrun1986 says:

    Everyone complains about children not playing outside enough and now this…

  12. framitz says:

    I encourage my 5 year old grand daughter to use sidewalk chalk on our walk way. She loves it.
    It keeps it off the WALLS.
    The stuff rinses away, so I don’t understand the fuss over the art at all.

    • dush says:

      Obviously this family isn’t rinsing it away when their daughter is done drawing. Instead they are leaving it there and that’s the real problem.

    • Geekybiker says:

      I’m thinking not rinsing is the problem too. While I have no issue with kids using sidewalk chalk, it doesn’t mean that everyone wants to look at your snowflake’s scribbles for weeks at a time. Bust out the hose and wash it down when she’s done. Its called being a good neighbor.

  13. HalOfBorg says:

    They should have a lot of her older ‘friends’ come over, with all their best, most disturbing video games and play them out in the courtyard.

    If anyone complains, say it MUST be better than chalk drawing.

  14. sprybuzzard says:

    Chalk washes off right? What’s the big deal then? Wash it off when she’s done.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i can imagine that immediately washing away a kid’s art might induce tears, but also maybe send the accidental message that her drawings aren’t good enough to leave.
      i remember wanting my driveway chalk art to last for days when i was a kid. fortunately my parents own their own home, no HOA, and my mom is a professional artist so she supported leaving my chalk drawings all over the driveway for days.

      • FluteAphrael says:

        So, grab your camera or your phone and take a picture of the amazing art. Then wash it away. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. You can even print the stuff and put it in an art album for your kid. Have the kid participate in being a good neighbour by taking their own picture, then washing up themselves. Even the amazing sidewalk chalk art in Mary Poppins got lost in the rain.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Actually, a good friend told me a couple weeks ago that his apartment complex is trying to ban sidewalk chalk. They actually claimed that it is because *some* (not all) sidewalk chalk uses milk (I have absolutely no idea if that is true) and that the milk in the chalk can be tracked into the apartments and damage the carpet.

      Dead serious, that is the real reason for banning all sidewalk chalk. My friend is currently seeking a new place to live.

  15. sixsevenco says:

    I live in Stapleton in a courtyard. Not sure if it’s the same HOA, as my kids use sidewalk chalk extensively. It’s a great community, and I’ve never had any issue with our HOA. In fact, I’ve never heard of them doing anything, at all. I’d rather the HOA write up my neighbors for letting the weeds and wild grass on the side of their house grow > 12″.

    • yellowdog says:

      Well hey, we lived just down the street from you in Lowry for a number of years. Talk about HOA city, right? The Lowry HOA was similarly picky about what it would enforce. No window-mounted AC (which is ok, they’re ugly), but want to set up a basketball hoop in the street for your kids (who subsequently began to believe they had the right-of-way over cars)? No problem! Enjoy our family-oriented neighborhood!

      We ditched it all and moved to a rare no-HOA neighborhood in Parker, closer to work in the Tech Center. Lots of chalk art on the sidewalks here, and no one says boo.

      • sixsevenco says:

        Parker is definitely a better choice if you work in the tech center. Parker would be a horrible choice if you work downtown. (even with Light Rail, you’re looking at a >1 hour commute, and if it snows more like ~2.)

    • SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

      If the HOA won’t, the City will. Go to http://www.denvergov.org/311 and click on the “Submit a Ticket” button. Once you submit your ticket and jurisdiction has been verified, your inspector will be out within 72 hours. Keep in mind he/she will also conduct a proactive inspection of the surrounding area, so be sure your own poop is in a group before you report your neighbor.

  16. fsnuffer says:

    My next door neighbor’s kid draws all over the sidewalk and it looks like a little bit of an eyesore. However I got other things to worry about and if this is the worse thing that happens to me during the day then I am doing pretty good so I just look down and tell her how nice her drawings are and press on with things I need to get done.

    • dobgold says:


    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      right? she’s not keying your car or drawing on your house, she’s not messing with you or your pets or family, not setting fires in the neighborhood. as hobbies/playtimes go, sidewalk chalk is pretty innocuous an non invasive

  17. nbs2 says:

    Heh. I have to laugh at this just beause of the timely nature of the story.

    We are moving to Houston, and one point I bring up to every realtor (all of whom run away when they find out I want to rent, not buy) is that I am concerned because I don’t want an HOA that will throw a fit about sidewalk chalk. They say, “nobody is that crazy.” Now I know someone is.

    • borgia says:

      Good luck with moving to houston. Their are many neighborhoods that are in unincorporated harris county where they are not part of any city but the HOA takes the place of the city. The HOA pays for streets and even pays Houston police to patrol the neighborhoods. A scary thought.

      • DrRonIsIn says:

        My unincorporated Harris County HOA is actually really well run, and I appreciate the police presence.

  18. humphrmi says:

    I’m usually one of those people saying “They signed the HOA agreement, they have to live with it”, but really? Chalk on a sidewalk? Wow. Figures it would be an HOA that could figure out how to make even an ardent supporter of their legality start to question them.

    • Hibyeman says:

      When i saw this i laughed for one second till i remembered it was a HOA which i was surprised i didn’t see a post like your before now

  19. JimmyKumbaya says:

    I love the way Consumerist’s editors slant stuff to make it clear just what side of every story they’re on.

    Can I help? “We all bought into the notion that we were sharing a space,” she explains.

    “Shared space.”

    “Shared space.” See how that’s not, “Private space” or “private property”?

    • sixsevenco says:

      Shared allows for usage by everyone. The child is being denied her usage of a quiet, harmless activity that can be cleaned in one minute with a hose.

      • jebarringer says:

        Shared space doesn’t mean that anyone can do anything they want, though.

        • sixsevenco says:

          I agree. In this case, we are talking about a quiet, harmless activity. It should not be prohibited.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      So that would also mean that YOU cannot intrude on our shared space with your ‘natural cologne’ (i.e., don’t be out there in that courtyard losing internal pressure).

      Seeing as how you love how the editors like to slant stuff, there are several thousand other websites you could frequent instead. I do not believe anyone is forcing you to read anything here.

  20. Scoobatz says:

    I like how the newscaster held a piece of chalk in his hand when reporting on this serious issue. It really helped drive the point home for me, and it makes it so much more personal.

    That could have been my daughter holding that piece of chalk.

  21. ZenListener says:

    Yes, we’ve had a few complaints. In fact, I’ve submitted six of them myself.

  22. DanKelley98 says:

    HOA’s are evil. It’s time to throw the bums in this situation out.

  23. mediaseth says:

    One of the things I love about my little downtown north of Boston is all the sidewalk drawings. Then again, I’m not exactly of the demographic that would fit in well in an HOA run sub-division.

  24. Sarahlara says:

    At the risk of sounding like a big jerk, I don’t like when kids here doodle all over the public areas. It makes it look like romper room and sometimes the drawing lasts for weeks. If I don’t have the right to alter the look of the community with a nice flower box on my balcony, then I don’t see why sidewalk chalk is okay all over the sidewalks and street.
    (this is a condo community where nobody has a private driveway. I’d be okay if drawings were on someone’s own driveway)

    • The Colonel says:

      If it bothers you that much, take a bucket of water and dump it after a few days.

      Problem solved.

    • Jillia says:

      WOW. I hate children just as much as the next person, but you have to be seriously evil to hate on little kid’s sidewalk drawings!! Are you people fucking kidding me?!? Don’t you have better things to worry about? Don’t you think it’s better that children are outside, being thoughtful and creative and having fun, rather than keying your car, or egging your house, or just being an indoor video game drone? Jesus. I don’t care how much of an eyesore you think it is. Just wow. And I thought I was a crank ass…

    • Kate says:

      Too late. You are a big jerk. Kids are messy, but you need them to have humans.


  25. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    When dealing with the yardnazis at my HOA, I learned quickly that going to the meeting and making them defend their position in person goes a long way towards getting them to leave you alone. They love to complain and send out letters, but go to the meeting and the same person who complained won’t even look you in the eye, much less mount an argument.

    • blueman says:

      Exactly. It should be a part of any HOA agreement that all complaints must be made publicly and directly. No anonymous chickenshit notes.

  26. TuxMan says:

    Chalk all you want on your own property. From the sound of it the HOA is only saying dont chalk up the community property. I have to agree if that is the case.

    • sixsevenco says:

      The front doors of these homes open directly to the shared space. (for the most part)

  27. TuxMan says:

    Chalk all you want on your own property. From the sound of it the HOA is only saying dont chalk up the community property. I have to agree if that is the case.

    • sjb says:

      I just guess that they will have to throw TP over your trees, since they can not use their chalk.

  28. Blueskylaw says:

    Someone needs to do a study to determine if there
    is a link between HOA’s and childhood obesity.

  29. Golfer Bob says:

    I think the kid should draw American flags and then let the HOA be damned….

    • dush says:

      If she drew them on her balcony and not the common space I don’t think the HOA would mind.

  30. dush says:

    How about limiting the kid’s art ot their own property instead of the common space? Seems like a couteous thing to do for the neighborhood.

    • sixsevenco says:

      This neighborhood is full to the brim with 3-7yo kids. If you move there, you need to understand that kids will be part of culture and community.

      • dush says:

        And if you move there with a 3-7 year old you should take responsibility for teaching them the difference between private property and community property.

        • sixsevenco says:

          Agreed. Children should be taught to respect rules and property.

          They should also be taught to not be mindless, rule-following drones. And that sometimes it is necessary to stand up for themselves and fight to change stupid rules that go against common sense.

          Each family on the shared space has a right to use the shared space, including the family of this little girl.

          • dush says:

            You make sidewalk chalk sound like the civil rights movement or something.
            Maybe the parents could just have the guts to tell their precious baby no rather than having such an attitude of entitlement.

            I do think the people who are actually offended by childish drawings should also have the guts to just address it with their neighbor and not tattle to the HOA. Geesh, what whiners.

            • sixsevenco says:

              “Maybe the parents could just have the guts to tell their precious baby no rather than having such an attitude of entitlement.”

              Spoken like a true non-parent that thinks he/she is an expert in parenting.

              Something AS SILLY AS THIS can be a teachable moment. I think the complainer is wrong, so to me, this is would be an opportunity to teach my children how to respectfully stick up for themselves. It has nothing to do with entitlement.

              While you disagree with his approach, you seem to agree with the complainer. So if you had kids, you COULD use this conflict as a way to teach courtesy or to avoid unnecessary conflict.

              Either way, a positive lesson is learned. But if we just follow your advice, very little will be learned from simply telling precious baby ‘no’.

              • dush says:

                Yeah, you seem to see it as sticking up for doing something you want to do in the face of complaints.
                However, I see it as teaching them to how to respect property that isn’t theirs.

                And I just said I didn’t agree with the whiners who complained to the HOA instead of just being neighborly and dealing with it face to face. So don’t say I agree with the complainers.

  31. HogwartsProfessor says:

    If it’s the shared space that’s the problem, then just tell the kid to only do it on the driveway. If they don’t want sidewalk chalk at ALL, then that’s stupid. It washes right off with a hose or a rain shower and hurts nothing.

  32. SiddhimaAmythaon says:

    I hate to be the downer here. But i live in a condo. each 4 units share a walkway to our doors. One of the kids in the outher units whould COVER everyu inch the area with drawings i was tracking in chawk every day. It was anyoing but i never compained to HOA till after they got evicted to get the area power washed out.

  33. ATXag says:

    “the HOA claims there have been complaints about the art somehow offending, disturbing or interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of the space.”

    A 3-year old is drawing something offensive?? I hate to see what she’s going to be like when she’s a teenager!

  34. kalaratri says:

    There’s something in my HOA’s rules about no sidewalk chalk. We do it anyway and just rinse off the chalk when we’re done.

  35. corridor7f says:

    Yeah, I likely wouldn’t be a huge fan of this either – especially considering all the other stuffy policies the HOA upholds.

    A simple solution is to get that brown craft paper in a big roll and tape down a big strip of it to the ground. Then the kiddies can have their art hung up later instead of the rain washing it away.

  36. Harry Greek says:

    Don’t like the HOA? Don’t join a HOA community.

    It’s very simple. It’s very easy. Yet, these stories keep emerging:
    – “Ah wunt ta fla ma confederate flag ahn they dun lets me!!”
    – “I was told to remove the dead deer carcases from my front lawn! I am being oppressed!!”
    – “What the hell!? The HOA told me I can’t traffic human beings out my house!! It’s MY house!”

    When will America stop complaining about the very situations it chooses to put itself in???

    • Auron says:

      If you look at all the stories about HOA’s on here, not a single one of them has anything to do with any of those things. A majority of them have something to do w/ the person either doing something the HOA said was ok then said it wasn’t, something that was grandfathered in when the HOA took hold, or something that anyone with any amount of common sense would be ok with if it is wasn’t controlled by an HOA>

  37. TheOnlyBob says:

    Maybe its chalk from China and has lead in it. Watching out for her safety /s

  38. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    In all fairness, it does look awful.

    Little kids can’t draw for shit.


    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      I’m sad that this is on page 2 and thus shall rarely be read. :(

  39. frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

    Time to tag some houses.

  40. brinks says:

    I don’t have kids and I don’t like kids. However, a child quietly drawing on a sidewalk doesn’t bother me a bit. If she was drawing penises decapitations and stuff, maybe. But hearts and flowers and her name? Come on.

  41. Nyxalinth says:

    I live in Denver, and I’m betting dollars to donuts that the griping HOA is in Highlands Ranch, aka Stepford.

  42. Jillia says:

    WOW. I hate children just as much as the next person, but you have to be seriously evil to hate on little kid’s sidewalk drawings!! Are you people fucking kidding me?!? Don’t you have better things to worry about? Don’t you think it’s better that children are outside, being thoughtful and creative and having fun, rather than keying your car, or egging your house, or just being an indoor video game drone? Jesus. I don’t care how much of an eyesore you think it is. Just wow. And I thought I was a crank ass…

  43. Cor Aquilonis says:

    I gotta say, after looking at the video, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask the kid to chalk up the part of the courtyard that’s not directly in the walking part of the path. That way the thru-walkers keep their shoes clean, and the kid can make some drawings. I hope cool heads prevail.

    • sixsevenco says:

      You wouldn’t know this from the video, but people primarily enter these homes from their garage, which is in the back of the house. I’ll bet that the little girl (and any other kids that live there) is the primary user of the sidewalk, by a long shot.

  44. toadboy65 says:

    They had better watch out. At least for now the HOA is letting them keep their children.

  45. flip says:

    lol…people spend so much money to have others tell what they can or cant do to their home. lol

  46. Greggen says:

    A few blocked from my house (in a non-HOA community BTW) there is a neighbor who leaves out a box of chalk and writes a question of the day for passer-bys to answer.

    It is interesting that most of the writing looks to be from adults. Its one of the great things about my neighborhood.