Sidewalk Chalk

As I was on my morning walk today I happened to walk past two driveways that had hopscotch boxes drawn on them with sidewalk chalk. It reminded me of my childhood when I used to play jacks and hopscotch on summer days. Obviously, some of the children in the neighborhood were having fun this weekend. At times tenants, sadly, will call me to tell me that the onsite manager has told them that their children are not allowed to write on the sidewalks with sidewalk chalk. I’m always appalled when I hear this, for there is nothing more childlike then kids writing all over the ground with sidewalk chalk. Besides hopscotch boxes, many flowers, hearts, and silly drawings are made by children with sidewalk chalk. The wonderful thing about sidewalk chalk is that it can be washed off in seconds with a hose or a bucket of water. But apartment managers don’t like sidewalk chalk. In the words of one apartment manager in Fresno, “the drawings are ugly.” Ugly? Really? While apartments are free to make up whatever rules they want for their complex, apartments are not allowed to create hostile environments for families with children. While a rule against using sidewalk chalk by itself would not amount to the creation of a hostile environment for families with children, it may be one indicator of a dislike or discrimination toward children. For often when I hear of children not being able to use sidewalk chalk, I also hear about children not being able to play outside without adult supervision. Sometimes I also hear about curfews that are only enforced against children. I also hear of threats to evict families if the children continue to draw with sidewalk chalk. Put simply, if the manager or the owner is telling you that your kids can’t use sidewalk chalk on the sidewalks, then the writing may be on the wall that they’ve got something against families with children, even if they are willing to rent to them.

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