For months, the Charlottesville intersection of Barracks Road and Emmett Street has been commandeered. A man known alternatively as “Clappy” (for his disruptions on the Downtown Mall) and “The Barracks Road Barker” (for his in-traffic antics) has taken up daily residence in the street median.
Routinely, the man:
- Steps into traffic
- Tries to engage drivers’ attention
- Obscures City-posted traffic control signs with large hand drawn-signs
- Blocks intersection visibility for traffic approaching from all directions
- Displays a fake “Stop” sign
While a recent court decision essentially green-lighted public begging in Charlottesville, the Barker’s dangerous antics at minimum contradict City code—which directly addresses such violations:
Sec. 34-1029. – Prohibited signs
The following signs and sign characteristics are prohibited in all zoning districts, unless otherwise provided within this article:
(b) Signs that create safety hazards or are contrary to the general welfare are prohibited, as follows:
(1) Any sign that is nailed, tacked, painted or in any other manner attached to any tree, cliff, fence, utility pole or support, utility tower, telecommunications or radio tower, curbstone, sidewalk, lamp post, hydrant, bridge, or any kind of public property; provided that this provision will not affect traffic, parking or informational signs placed by a public authority.
(2) Any sign on public land or right-of-way, other than those erected at the direction of a public authority, or by an official of the state or county pursuant to statute or ordinance, and those otherwise authorized by this article.
(6) Any sign that creates a public safety hazard, as determined by the fire code official, the building code official, a law enforcement officer, the city engineer, the zoning administrator, or the city’s traffic engineer including, without limitation: signs erected in a location so as to be unsafe or an obstruction to vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian traffic; a sign that prevents egress or ingress from a required door, window or fire escape; a sign that obstructs ventilation; or a sign that imitates an official traffic sign, signal or road name sign.
(7) Any sign that obscures a sign displayed by a public authority.
(d) Any sign erected, posted or maintained in violation of subsection (b)(2) above is hereby declared and deemed to be a public nuisance, subject to immediate removal by City employees authorized by the Director of Neighborhood Development Services.
While citizens are subjected to harassment and dangerous distraction at the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmett Street, the City has done nothing to enforce its own laws or restore safety to the area. Charlottesville Police, operating in an impossibly hostile environment, have all but given up pro-active enforcement. City employees who are tasked with Code enforcement, ignore the obvious danger here and instead focus on harassing private property owners over too-tall weeds or other mundane matters. Everyday citizens, tired of their reports to authorities being ignored or dismissed have stopped reporting.
And, thus, the depraved culture of lawlessness and selective enforcement in Charlottesville continues—and flourishes—in new and precarious ways.
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