By Steve Hunley

Ten Pounds Of Lard In A Five-Gallon Bucket

Realtors are being polled by their own association asking some questions that have raised eyebrows amongst homeowners.  A few of those are:

“Do you support removing the special use requirement for duplexes and triplexes in the RN-2 and RN-3 zoning districts AND for townhomes and multifamily dwellings in the RN-3 and RN-4 zoning districts?”

“Generally speaking, do you support zoning amendments to make it easier for property owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on their property?  Examples include removing the owner occupancy requirement, amending gross square footage standards, and removing off-street parking requirements.”

“Do you support eliminating (or substantially reducing) minimum off-street parking requirements for new residential development in the City?”

The questionnaire also points out “only single-family homes are allowed by right in nearly 80% of residential land in the city (i.e. RN-1 and RN-2).”  The questionnaire goes on to ask Realtors, “Generally speaking do you think having such a large percentage of residential land zoned this way is in the best interests of the city and its residents?”

This comes as Hancen Sale, a 25-year-old who is the Government Affairs and Policy Director for the Knoxville Association of REALTORS, is appearing before the Knox County Commission to give what has imperiously been referred to as the “State of Housing Report.”  Basically, Sale is the real estate industry’s chief lobbyist, to put it simply.  There was a time when lobbyists were not invited to lecture the commission as if they were experts.

Let me be clear that I have nothing but respect for the bulk of the hardworking people who comprise the core of Realtors in our community.  I don’t have the same kind of respect for those who are trying to pack 10 pounds of lard into a 5-gallon bucket.  That seems to be the gist of what the questionnaire sent out under the guise of the Knoxville Association of Realtors is advocating.  The goal seems to be to pack the City of Knoxville with another 50,000 or even 100,000 new residents.  Of course, to accomplish that, many neighborhoods would have to be demolished and the process of building “up” would have to begin.  The goal would be, as suggested in the questionnaire, to build multifamily housing throughout the city.

Much of what the city government likes to call “affordable” housing is actually subsidized housing.  Nor is the blueprint being pushed by the real estate lobby good for the individual Realtors, who sell single-family homes.  The blueprint, however, is very good for developers and landlords.  Only empty-headed leftists actually believe those developments would be built for little or nothing.  That’s never going to happen.  If they are built, they will cost a great deal of money, as would the demolition of neighborhoods.  Unless the city government proposes the general taxpayers underwrite the rents, they will go at the market rate.

Politically speaking, the real estate lobby doesn’t seem to be very bright.  Last year the Realtor’s political arm endorsed Stuart Hohl over Gina Oster for the county commission.  Oster is a Realtor.  This year, the real estate lobby is backing Councilwoman Lynne Fugate over Cameron Brooks, who is also a Realtor.

Nor does the real estate lobby acknowledge the effect on housing in local communities caused by the open border.  With millions of illegal aliens coming into the country and being allowed to be parsed all across the nation, they must be housed somewhere.  All of those people must be accommodated and it will drive up local tax rates as every aspect of local infrastructure will be affected.  Schools will have to be enlarged, more teachers hired, or new buildings built.  It will also increase the demand for housing and prices will rise accordingly.


Thank You, Mr. Bernstein

Bernard “Bernie” Bernstein passed away on May 19, 2023.  In the interest of full disclosure, Bernie Bernstein was the lawyer for my businesses.  I was quite fortunate in my choice of lawyers and even more fortunate in that Bernie took me on as a client.

The son of immigrants from Hungary, the life of Bernie Bernstein was the very definition of an American success story.  Bernie earned a scholarship to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country: the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Bernie fought for his country, serving as a lieutenant in the Air Force and was an intelligence officer during the Korean War.

One of the best business lawyers in the country, Bernie Bernstein demonstrated repeatedly his legal ability in just about every field.  Bernie was also a leader in the civil rights movement at a time when it wasn’t always popular to take up the cause.

Bernie’s firm encompassed his partnership with the late Charles Susano Jr., who went on to be appointed to a seat on the Tennessee State Court of Appeals.  Bernie Bernstein’s legal career could very well serve as a road map to the growth and development of Knoxville and Knox County.  Bernstein was the lawyer for Proffitt’s Department Store, Clayton Homes and Whittle Communications.

Bernie’s expertise as an attorney was not confined solely to business; he was equally adept at criminal matters and even what is politely referred to as “domestic relations.”  Bernie was a tiger in the courtroom and a formidable advocate on behalf of any client, whether it was a Fortune 500 company or a party to a divorce battle.  For his oftentimes fierce fighting for his clients, Bernie was an able and experienced mediator and was able to resolve conflicts between adversaries.

Throughout his career, Bernie Bernstein was recognized by the members of his chosen profession and peers in just about every way possible.  He was also recognized by his friends and neighbors, who elected him as a delegate to Tennessee’s 1977 Constitutional Convention.  Then-Mayor Victor Ashe called on Bernstein to head a commission to facilitate conflicts between citizens and the Knoxville Police Department.

Bernie served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School and was one of the founders of the College of Law’s Legal Clinic.

Bernie Bernstein was probably one of the most prominent members of Knoxville’s Jewish community.  Then-Governor Lamar Alexander appointed Bernstein to head Tennessee’s Holocaust Commission.

Bernie was devoted to his family, religion, profession, friends and community.  Bernie Bernstein’s life was a monument to a life well lived.  For those who knew Bernie Bernstein, we will truly miss him and continue to cherish the memory of his friendship.  So, too, will our community miss someone who constantly gave of himself.  While successful in every aspect of life and work, Bernie Bernstein gave back far more than he ever received.