Schmuck of the Week

Stapleton HOA draws the shmucky line on sidewalk chalk art

It takes a village to raise a child, but it only takes one meddling homeowners association to tear that child down. Earlier this month, CBS4 reported that a private HOA within the Stapleton neighborhood had decided to ban a three-year-old girl from drawing with colored chalk on the sidewalks in a shared area between houses.

Apparently, Emerson Cohen's depictions of flowers and hearts offended or disturbed at least one neighbor, who asked the association, called Innovations and Courtyard Traditions at Stapleton, to take action.

"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," an attorney for the group told the station.

The issue garnered so much negative attention nationwide, however, that the Stapleton Master Community Association, which governs the majority of the neighborhood, distanced itself from Innovations, claiming that it had no authority in this case (see the MCA's entire position on the matter below).

Emerson's mom, Sarah Cohen, has said she has no intention of preventing her daughter from expressing her artistic side, however -- an attitude that could lead Emerson down the wrong path -- possibly to the scourges of lemonade stands or even Slip 'N Slides.

6.19.2012 - Stapleton Community Sidewalk/Public Space Issue

• The Stapleton Master Community Association (MCA) does not have any rules prohibiting chalk art on any sidewalk throughout our community. We have never asked any resident (verbally or in writing) to stop using chalk in public spaces within the community; in fact, we have always encouraged free expression within all of our public spaces.

• In the Stapleton community, sidewalks located in front of single-family homes are the responsibility of that homeowner. However, in the multi-family developments (including most courtyard* products) internal and external common areas are typically managed by an independent owners' association consistent with the CCIOA statutes in Colorado. As with any owners' association constituted within the sate of Colorado, homeowners need to ensure that they understand any additional rules and regulations that an individual association may have in regards to the shared use of common space.

• We understand that the media has been reporting the story inaccurately, causing confusion. A local Denver CBS4 story which originally aired a week ago about a Denver homeowners association concern over the "Chalk Art" in common areas incorrectly referred to "the association" as the "The Stapleton HOA." This misstatement has led people to incorrectly believe that this story was referring to the Stapleton Master Community Association (MCA) and subsequently the Stapleton community. This story is not affiliated with the Stapleton HOA, the Stapleton MCA or even the Stapleton Community in any way. The issue is related to an individual independent homeowners association

• We are working diligently to reach out to the media and other constituents to try to correct the misstatements and provide the facts.

• We care about the reputation of the Stapleton community and are doing what we can to work with the media to ensure that all reporters/producers understand the facts and the issue....

* Courtyard developments are those comprised of single family style homes that all share a common greenscapes and hardscapes. These are developments which are designed to reflect the new urbanism concept of sustainability and land conservation

More from our Shmuck of the Week archive: "Matt Arnold: CU Regent candidate has your number -- and your address."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes