Knoxville is growing! This means that we must prepare now for the projected progression of our great city. If we fail to adequately plan, growing pains will stifle our full potential as we’ve seen in so many other cities that have already reached this threshold.
Having served on Knox Planning (formerly MPC) as a commissioner for seven years, I understand the importance of smart growth and development. We have to find the delicate balance of preserving our “scruffy little city” feel, while simultaneously forging the future. This means that developers and communities must communicate first and foremost. Working together will enable us to create vibrant and safe neighborhoods that stimulate sustainability, walkability and connectivity.
Additionally, every sector of our city should offer a multitude of options to work, live and play. Quality housing and amenities spread throughout the city will result in healthier residents, reduced commutes and traffic congestion, and the elimination of food and pharmacy deserts.
Lastly, we have to protect the environment. Everyone desires clean water and clean air. It’s imperative that we protect our green spaces, our hillsides and ridgetops, all while maintaining the intrinsic beauty of our community.
Every Knoxvillian deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Housing prices continue to rise, pricing working class individuals out of certain sectors of our city. Economic segregation has become a sanctioned practice, and as a result, those who are not in the upper echelons of the socioeconomic status are extremely limited as to where they can live. If we are truly going to have a vibrant city, this cannot be the status quo.
Low-income families, college students, and seniors on fixed incomes struggle with the housing woes facing our communities. Housing options available to these individuals are typically in poor condition and are located in food and pharmacy deserts. I will work tirelessly to ensure that this course in reversed and that all citizens have access to basic needs regardless of where they live.
We must strive to make home ownership a reality for those who so desire, and we must ensure that prices are manageable for those who opt to rent. As a city, we must advocate for diversified housing options employing a combination of mixed-use developments, multi-family developments, and single-detached unit developments at rates that our workforce can maneuver. Implementing standards on affordability will ensure that residents are moving up and not moving out.
With Knoxville being home of the University of Tennessee system’s flagship institution, there is an incredible amount of young talent that flocks to Knoxville to secure a quality education. With each new freshman class, the G.P.A. is higher and the diversity is greater. We, as a city, need not educate only to see them depart post commencement, but we must create and sustain an environment that offers incentives for them to want Knoxville as home. These incentives include:
1) Growing our business base ensuring competitive wages and job creation for degreed and trade workers alike.
2) Through public/private partnerships, promoting civic groups and organizations, boards, and agencies for them to become more rooted within the community.
3) Partnering with promoters to attract a wide variety of acts and entertainment.