|Cars for sale at 4508 Braddock Road|
Mason District resident Richard C. Zambito is so fed up with his neighbors on Braddock Road trying to sell cars and appliances on their front yard, he has made it his mission to get the county to shut down these illegal commercial operations.
Zambito, vice president of the Parklawn Civic Association, sent a letter to a long list of local and state officials March 31 expressing his frustration with the county’s failure to act.
“Braddock Road has a long history of commercial activity in the last five to seven years, and it is not only hurting our property values, but it creates safety problem with regard to street traffic and pedestrians,” Zambito states. “Most importantly, it creates an image of sanctioned lawlessness in Mason District, our neighborhood, and our county.”
The letter recounts Zambito’s interactions with zoning officials, the police, and the people renting the house at 4508 Braddock Road who are selling large appliances and used cars just about every weekend.After Zambito called Charles Forshee of the Fairfax County Code Compliance Department to complain about 15 to 30 cars on that site a week ago, Forshee told him he had driven by several times and did not see any violations. “I asked if he has been by on the weekends, and he explained that zoning does not work on the weekends,” Zambito states.
When Zambito took photos on a previous visit to 4508 Braddock, the people conducting the yard sale chased him down the road. So on March 31, he asked police officers to accompany him to the site. There were a few cars on the yard—some with tags and some without—but not as many as the previous week.
The police “were not as helpful as I would have hoped,” Zambito says. Officer Yousuf Ashraf told Zambito that the current situation at 4508 Braddock was not in violation of the law.
Zambito says he argued that the vehicles were being illegally stored and pointed out that untagged vehicles without covers are not legal and that residents are entitled to sell only five cars a year. He says Ashraf was less than courteous “and insisted that I should not debate the law with him because he was a police officer and he knew the law.”
Zambito says he was grateful that the police offers were there when “the renters came out of the house yelling at me.” But when they spoke with Ashraf, “they accused me of religious harassment” and threatened to press charges, he says. “I felt at that time the police were no longer looking after the law-abiding citizen and that my rights were being seriously violated in reporting illegal activity.”
Zambito urges the county to do something about “these thugs that rent this house and continue to violate county laws and the quality of life in our neighborhood and get away with it repeatedly.”
He calls upon elected officials and public safety officials to “become more aware of this growing problem and diligently address the cancer that is destroying our inner beltway neighborhood by either effectively enforcing our existing laws or have legislation rewritten to better protect and serve citizens from squatters that have very little interest in our county, its laws, its neighbors, and way of life.”
There is some indication that county officials are listening. On April 1, Zambito received an email from Jeff Blackford, director of the Fairfax County Department of Code Compliance Enforcement, promising to seriously look into the yard sales at 4508 Braddock Road.
Zambito also received a phone call April 1 from Captain Gun Lee, the commander of the Mason District Police Station, who agreed to assess Ashraf’s conduct and seek a meeting with zoning enforcement officials.