Moving sucks. Trust me, by this time next month, Iâ€™ll have moved for the fifth time in five years. Each time a lease ends, I hope Iâ€™ll find a home and a block that fits my personality. Through countless visits to rental propertiesâ€”to find my newest place, I viewed more than 20 before finding a good matchâ€”Iâ€™ve developed a foolproof way to judge the character of a street. It must have at least one of three criteria: flowers on stoops or windowsills, neighbors in shiny plastic lawn chairs (even if said lawn chairs are sitting on concrete and not actual, um, lawn), and colorful sidewalk-chalk drawings up and down the pavement. If I see one or more of these things, I know Iâ€™ll be dealing with neighbors who care about their properties and are engaged in keeping the neighborhood looking nice.
This is why I was stunned to read about a Denver community banning sidewalk chalk. A homeownersâ€™ association in Stapleton wants to prohibit the use of chalk on pavement claiming it â€śoffends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoymentâ€ť of the community.
Take a minute to pick your jaw up off theâ€”perfectly cleanâ€”sidewalk. Who are these people who are offended by sidewalk chalk? Are they disturbed by all fun? Must they also hate things like ice cream cones and pony rides and French-braided pigtails?
The Stapleton ban hit close to home for Megan Wendell, owner of Canary Promotions. Wendell, currently a Glenside resident, said her familyâ€™s relocation from their rowhome on a typical Mount Airy block was largely brought on by a cranky neighbor who complained about Wendellâ€™s then-two-and-a-half-year-old daughterâ€™s sidewalk chalk habit. â€śIt wasnâ€™t the only reason, but it was the straw that broke the camelâ€™s back,â€ť Wendell explained. â€śI was shocked. And then I was really angry and then a Â bit heartbroken about it. This was the only place our daughter had to play on the block.â€ť
By and large, sidewalk chalking is an activity enjoyed mostly by the pre-school population. Unless brilliant toddlers have accidentally started drawing anatomically correct human parts or accidentally spelled out naughty words with their cursory knowledge of the alphabet, I canâ€™t fathom what could offend even the stodgiest of Stapleton (or Mount Airy) residents.
And a fantastic thing about chalk? Itâ€™s easy to get rid of in case something disrespectful managed to slip through. When the tween-age boys across the street from my last house got a hold of their younger sisterâ€™s sidewalk chalk, they scrawled the word â€śBOOBSâ€ť across a brick wall about five dozen times. No one seemed offendedâ€”even the sweet 75-year-old block captain took a photo with itâ€”but if they were, it only lasted a few hours. A thunderstorm that evening washed away the words. The next day, our block went back to being decorated with flowers and hearts and rainbows.
â€śI donâ€™t know how you donâ€™t feel ridiculous bringing up this sort of thing,â€ť Wendell said. â€śThere was far worse blight on our block.â€ť
I know one thing: Iâ€™ll be extra strict with my moving criteria if I ever find myself apartment-hunting in Mount Airy.