Court Orders Children Must Have Access to Swimming Pool Too

For immediate release
October 22, 2004

Contact:  Barbara Osinski, Fair Housing Coordinator PROJECT SENTINEL 
430 Sherman Ave. Suite 308, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Tel: (888)324-7468 X103  Fax: (650) 321-4173

The Federal Court granted a preliminary injunction on October 19, 2004 barring The Keys Condominium Association in Walnut Creek, CA., from enforcing a rule that children under 18 are not allowed in a large main swimming pool and surrounding area during the summer months.

The Keys Condominium Association is the governing body a 792 Unit Condominium complex in Walnut Creek, with many children residing there.  The Plaintiffs, several residents at The Keys, believed that several rules limiting children’s access to common facilities at The Keys violate the Fair Housing Act.  At least with respect to the swimming pool, their request has been granted, for now.  The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Kerry Gough and Scott Chang.

The Court found that "the rule limiting children’s access to the main pool during the summer months is based solely on the fact that the children are persons under the age of 18.  The result of the rule is that the children and their families are treated differently and less favorably than households comprised of adults only." 

Such "different treatment" is in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1988, says Gough.  The Court's decision points out that this Act "bars discrimination on the basis of any of several listed characteristics, one of which is familial status", and that "there is no exception to the scope of protection."

The Keys Association says that the reason for these rules is that adult residents of The Keys enjoy using the main pool for lap swimming and “lap walking” or “water-walking,” and that they prefer the relative tranquility of a swimming pool not filled with active and noisy children.  In recognition of this need, the Court told the Association that they could impose other reasonable, age neutral restrictions on the use of the swimming pool, such as setting aside certain hours for lap-swimming or lap-walking, or imposing reasonable restrictions on noise or roughhousing in the pool area.

Ann Marquart, Executive Director of Project Sentinel, a fair housing agency, states "The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1988 added 'familial status' to the previous Fair Housing Act in recognition that housing opportunities for families were being limited.  Policies restricting residency and amenities for families with children mean fewer housing opportunities for families.  This decision is consistent with previous court decisions barring restrictions on residency and access to amenities, and shows that the law is alive and well, and is still protecting our communities."