City Building Inspector
City of Richmond
900 E. Main Rm. 110
This communication in toto can be referenced at
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:
Zero inches, that is, no dirt can be higher than the the bottom of the lower
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.
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.
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:
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.
I am a good neighbor--see list of things I
have done directly and indirectly for my neighbor.
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.)
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
By 2010, national food riots would occur. I was wrong. In 2008, 30% of the
nations had food riots due to prices or scarcity.
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.
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.)
I have tried to develop tools for better public problem-solving.
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.
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
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.
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
In 1980, the average worker had almost $300k in defined retirement benefits
with the top 1% owning 20% of America.
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.
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.
How did this happen? Americans prefer play over work which is why we have
Pittsburgh Steelers rather than Pittsburgh steelworkers.
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