By Steve Hunley
You may be tired of hearing about Recode from The Focus, but the more the people of Knoxville hear and read about it, the better off we’ll all be. One can call Recode just about anything but good. Victor Ashe, Knoxville’s longest serving mayor, has labeled Recode a massive rezoning ordinance that will affect more than 70,000 parcels of property inside the City of Knoxville. I agree with former mayor Ashe, but what I would also like to point out it is, at the heart of it, Recode is a terrible marriage of rezoning and social planning. That union proposes to socially engineer Knoxvillians into driving less; citizens would be expected to take public transportation, bicycle or walk to destinations as if Knoxville had suddenly become New York City or San Francisco. The core of this proposal aims to increase Knoxville’s population by some 170,000 residents in a relatively short period of time. According to statistics from 2017, there are 187,347 people living inside the City of Knoxville, so the Recode proposal is looking to quite nearly double the present number of citizens.
Last week, you read how Recode, intentionally or unintentionally, will likely drive up the cost to homeowners through insurance repairs when they are needed. The bottom line is it appears homeowners will pay more due to the requirements imposed by Recode that the insurance companies won’t pay out of their own coffers.
The very heart of Recode is POPULATION DENSITY. What that means is by nearly doubling the population of Knoxville, there will be more public housing, more building up, rather than out. Ponder for a moment, if you will, how your neighborhood will change with five homes on an acre lot instead of one, or even two.
A huge influx of new residents in a relatively short period of time will change everything about Knoxville, Tennessee. It will change transportation, the ability of those who still hope to drive having longer drive times, increase taxes, as well as crime and will surely affect the quality of life as Knoxvillians now know it. What the present administration anticipates is that it will change the political configuration of both Knoxville and Knox County. You can bet these folks aren’t thinking a horde of retiring Republicans or even political Independents will settle in an ultra-urban Knoxville. The goal seems to be to turn Knoxville completely blue. If you think that means Knoxville will become some sort of utopia at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, think again. Look at the problems facing cities that are so blue it looks like melted midnight. The homeless problem in Seattle and Los Angeles, both governed by partisan leftist Democrats, is so acute it is rapidly becoming a crisis where people are living in cars in neighborhoods and relieving themselves on neighborhood sidewalks at will. Parks are no longer playgrounds, but refuges for the homeless who aren’t trying to better themselves. Crime has skyrocketed. Used needles litter the streets of subdivisions. Despite increasing expenditures by local governments and higher and higher taxes, the problems are getting worse instead of better.
Only one candidate for mayor of Knoxville in the coming election—Eddie Mannis—has forthrightly announced his opposition to Recode in its current form. Marshall Stair, an incumbent city councilman, has TWICE voted to eliminate the provision requiring the City of Knoxville to give property owners notice when local government is trifling with an owners’ property rights. To be fair, Stair wasn’t alone in casting a vote that boggles the mind and stabs the notion of transparency through the heart; every member of the Knoxville City Council voted to eliminate that provision of the law. Come to think of it, just where are these 170,000 new residents supposed to find jobs? The Knoxville City Council has in the past few years been anti-business, seeming to think there is an endless pit of money to spend without generating new tax revenue. Keep in mind when a government cannot generate new tax revenue it levies higher taxes on existing business and property owners. The bottomless pit of money is your pocketbook.
Indya Kincannon, a former member of the Knox County Board of Education, knows as much about budgets as a toddler knows about rocket science. Kincannon habitually supported the overspending of former superintendent Jim McIntyre which necessitated then-Mayor Tim Burchett and the County Commission imposing the Memorandum of Understanding requiring the Board to live within its means. Kincannon is no more averse to taxing and spending than a skunk is to stinking. Like Marshall Stair, Kincannon strongly supports Recode.
Several candidates running for city council are already supporting Recode and some have voted for it as members of the Metropolitan Planning Commission. To my mind, supporting the elimination of the rights of the people is an absolute disqualification for holding any office. It is the anthesis of representative government.
There are logical, responsible ways to grow a city and it sure as heck isn’t through an abomination of social planning and rezoning. Deep in the darkest part of the heart of Recode, it’s all about a partisan, utopian vision that is nothing more than pure politics along with social engineering.