City Building Inspector
City of Richmond
900 E. Main Rm. 110
Richmond, VA

This communication in toto can be referenced at www.timism.com\Letters\FenceWall13Apr11.htm

To whom it may concern:

On Thursday, April 11, 2013, a city employee of the Bureau of Permits and Inspections, Tony Jones, posted a "Stop Work Order" on the door of 3600 Anne Street in regards to a construction project on the corner of Anne and Bland Streets. The design was to replace an existing fence that had deteriorated over years. The design evolved into having a lower portion to retain two and half feet of dirt with a four foot fence of 4x4 treated lumber to also be used as flag posts--prior example. A fence is needed to reduce forages by deer and thieves: my 20 watermelons were stolen one night in 2010 and 50 of my tomato cages were stolen in April 2012.

While I think I am within regulations to replace the previous fence, the code question is how high can the dirt be raised on the inside to not require a construction permit. At the time of the Stop Work Order, dirt was above the lower timber but not above the second timber--an average of about six inches (6"). So, which of the following am I allowed:

  1. Zero inches, that is, no dirt can be higher than the the bottom of the lower landscaping timber.
  2. Maximum of two feet (based on a reading of Virginia and Richmond codes--but I may not understand what two feet of dirt means).

I understand the city's concern for public safety in regards to unsafe retaining walls. I believe my construction design is sufficient to last longer than anyone alive today. After much internet research, I recognize that while literature indicates my treated-lumber design might last two decades, city codes would like a design of greater longevity. At this time, the cost of pouring concrete to effect a century-worthy retaining wall is not practical because of other time-demanding projects. Thus, at this time, I would like the city to inform me of how much dirt I can put behind my fence: Zero to twenty-four inches.

While it is the case that some dirt (about 6" to 9") has been thrown on the bottom, the structure has not been backfilled. Unless I am mistaken-which would not be the first nor the last--any wall two feet or under in height is exempt from the a requirement of permit and inspection.

  1. If it is the case that a two-foot restraining wall is exempt then my wall restricted to two foot in height with a fence atop it is exempt.
  2. If I am wrong, removal of this dirt (6" to 9") would eliminate this being defined as a retaining wall: The landscaping timber would be the bottom part of the originally intended fence at the bottom of a slope on my property. Therefore, if I am wrong, I will remove that dirt so that fence cannot be construed as a retaining wall.

So, can I have my replacement fence? Can I have any dirt behind it? How much?

Issues of passing interest:

  1. The city worker, Tony Jones, said his boss was driving by and saw the construction which warranted Mr. Jones' visit. This is contradicted by my neighbor who afterwards told my helper that she had called the city. I understand how it is in the best of interest of public safety and peace to minimize reference to one neighbor complaining about another. In this case, this neighbor has consistently gone out of her way to waste my time since November 2011 when she talked to me like a dog and called another neighbor a "white bitch." A review of all the things that I did for her between 2003 and 2011 had a commercial value of over $15,000. At the time of her outburst, I was in a 70-foot manlift cutting dead limbs from trees over the streets that my wife and neighbors including her travel (which cost $700/day rental). This last incident prompts me to initiate legal action for restrictions and injunctions against this neighbor.
  2. I am a good neighbor--see list of things I have done directly and indirectly for my neighbor.
  3. Fence or artwork? Since building my replacement fence I have had two people knock on my door to complement me on the pleasing asthetics. The number of drivers and walkers how have complementing recently and long-term is more than I can count. My garden has been on TV. People have said they started gardens from watching my garden. I was in the Washington Post on a 20ft ladder picking tomatoes from a 19-ft tall tomato plant. I have seen people stand in front of my garden with another taking pictures. I hope I don't have to go to an appeals board or city council to keep my fence. Whether or not I retain dirt behind it is secondary. I like the looks which I intend to keep pristine by staining and varnishing the timbers.

If you were a policeman and stopped a speeding car only to find the driver rushing to the hospital with one of your loved ones, would you write him a ticket or let him drive on? Please keep this analogy in mind in reading the following. Each of us can affect the time and mind of others. (You might want to quickly review my resume and achievement summary.)

  1. In 1982, I wrote an essay that rising levels of CO2 gases would harm humanity first and foremost by changes in rain patterns with worsening droughts and deluges--see Global Dying (text .. Youtube). Since then my research has drawn some ugly conclusions which I wish were not true. In 2006 I concluded the following:
    1. By 2010, national food riots would occur. I was wrong. In 2008, 30% of the nations had food riots due to prices or scarcity.
    2. By 2012, failed states would occur because of the worsening food crisis caused by global warming. I was wrong. The "Arab Spring" started in 2010.
    3. By 2015, I expect an extended heat wave to destroy most food crops with a 90% die of humanity. Politicians and economists do not know what to do let alone recognize the accelerating existential meltdown of problem-solving institutions: food, government, education, healthcare, etc. (On April 11, Richmond experienced several fires that were difficult to control. Imagine if it had been a little drier and a more windy. Massive statewide fires are coming, e.g., Australia, Greece, Portugal, etc.)
  2. I have tried to develop tools for better public problem-solving.
    1. The simplest tool is my website CaveGarden.com which does more than encourages people to have gardens that are more efficient and productive. It provides a process by which P.T.A.'s can have "seeding bees" (parties) in the spring to raise money and lower food costs.
    2. An equally simple tool with broader problem-solving potential is my internet developed "brainbees" which are like spelling bees by which people spell out problem definitions and solutions for a fair and equal democratic processing to select the biggest problem affecting the most people. Brainbees are objective, logical and cheap. I have developed brainbees for all 230+ countries, all 3600+ sub-national units (states, provinces, regions, etc.) as well as the 20,000+ cities with populations over 20,000.
    3. Concomitant with the brainbees is a reward system that quantifies the time created by solving time-wasting problem. The solver receives a finder's fee in the real wealth behind all the funny numbers on funny paper: Time, that is, lifehours. As is, all currencies systems are cancerously self-destructive.  Humanity needs an honest currency that cannot be legally stolen by paper-playing Wall Stealers.
    4. I am a capitalist. I believe in rewarding people for using their heads (capita) for solving problems. Today, capitalism is not failing. Rather, the tools and terms of capitalism have been hijacked to do the opposite of capitalizing production and capitating jobs. We have decapitalism. Consider the following
      1. In 1980, the average worker had almost $300k in defined retirement benefits with the top 1% owning 20% of America.
      2. Today, the average retiree has about $80k in a 401k plan made up of dollars worth 42% of the 1980 dollar with the top 1% owning more than 50% of America.
      3. How did this happen? 401ks are the biggest legal bank robbery in history in which corporate insiders print numerous stock for stock options and IPOs which they sell into the savings and pensions of gullible American workers.
      4. How did this happen? Americans prefer play over work which is why we have Pittsburgh Steelers rather than Pittsburgh steelworkers.
      5. Tax-dependent public workers are not immune from America's decline in the work ethic behind needed tax revenues.

So, you, the reader has with many duties that impact on what I do with my time. In the gray areas of everyday life, do you want me jumping through hoops that end up having been smoke rings? Must I to have a fence spend time at appeal boards, city councils and courts?

Please contact me at 804-513-0727 as to a time when we can meet to find out if I can have a fence and if I can have some or no dirt behind the fence. I live pretending I do not know what I know so that I can enjoy blissfully the entries on my bucket list.


Robert S. Barnett
3600 Anne Street
Richmond, VA 23225