Pittsburg city officials met Tuesday, February 23, 2021 for the regularly scheduled City Commissioners meeting, held at the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center. The need for the availability of affordable housing in Pittsburg dominated the session, as numerous concerned citizens addressed the commission with their thoughts on the subject.
Mayor Chuck Munsell opened the meeting with a special thanks to city employees and local agencies for their “dedication and diligence” during last week’s cold spell.
“Our community is one of the greatest for stepping up to help each other,” Munsell said. “…I am very proud of our community here at the city of Pittsburg, and how we all stood together in this time of need.”
During the Public Input segment of the meeting, Joseph Shane Adcock, Pittsburg State University alumnus and co-founder of the Progressive Lateral Aid Network (PLAN) of Pittsburg thanked the commission and community members for their involvement in the establishment of the warming station last Monday, February 15, at Lincoln Center. He then gave a special thank you to City Manager, Daron Hall for his attentiveness and help at getting the shelter opened as soon as was possible.
“The PLAN for Pittsburg would like to thank everyone who donated, everyone who offered help, and everyone who took the time to read our posts and point us in the right direction,” Adcock said. “With your help, we were able to provide shelter for 17 human beings over the course of six days, for a combined total of 33 nights. That is 33 times that a human being was able to sleep in a warm bed and not worry about where their next meal was going to come from…we can’t thank you enough.”
Adcock said that on Wednesday morning when they had to leave Lincoln Center, they felt they could not just leave people out in the Artic-cold, so they began to put hotel rooms on their individual credit cards.
“We are all broke college students, so that didn’t hold up very long,” Adcock said. “Luckily, all of you stepped up and made it possible for us to provide shelter for those 17 human beings, and we will never forget it.”
Adcock then addressed the commission about the need for emergency shelter, the need for affordable housing, and the need for a rental licensing program in Pittsburg to ensure safe rental units.
“Our focus now shifts toward holding the slumlords of this community accountable for their uninhabitable properties and fighting to hold all rental properties to a higher standard,” Adcock said. “Additionally, we will begin circulating petitions demanding that every building or organization that is officially designated as an emergency shelter be opened when we experience extreme weather like we have just seen.”
Adcock provided ideas for tackling the issues of lack of emergency shelters and affordable rental properties which plague the Pittsburg community.
“To combat the problem of landlords not properly maintaining their rental properties, the City should consider implementing a business licensing program that requires property owners to register their properties and permit the city to conduct interior inspections before issuing a certificate of occupancy,” Adcock said. “Code violations would be addressed before certificate of occupancy would be issued.”
After Adcock was finished, the other residents there for public input shared their experiences and thoughts on the housing issue. Jeff Montanelli of Pittsburg shared details about his housing struggles. Roger Burns expressed concerns about the electric outages. He said the city should reconsider the idea of a municipal electric utility, and also thanked Hall for his help during the blackout.
PSU alumna and PLAN volunteer Jaci Jenkins thanked City staff for helping to open the warming station during the cold snap. She also shared concerns about the lack of affordable housing and lack of quality rental housing in Pittsburg. Jenkins asked the commissioners to do whatever necessary to bring rental properties up to a higher standard.
“We were considering moving outside of Pittsburg because of the lack of adequate housing,” Jenkin said. “We really love this community…we want to invest in this town. And if that means paying higher taxes, we are fine with that…if it means going out through other avenues and donating to things like the PLAN to help staff the Lincoln Center when there’s a cold snap, we’re fine with that. We want to do our part to make this town a true reflection of the people that live here.”
After public input, the commissioners approved the consent agenda and the minutes for February 9, which included an amendment to Section 78-116 of the Pittsburg City Code to prohibit parking on the west side of North Tucker Avenue, from the south side of the intersection of North Tucker Avenue, and East 4th Street to the north side of the intersection of North Tucker Avenue and East 10th Street.
Last on the meeting agenda was a public hearing to receive public comment on the establishment of the Villas at Creekside-Phase I Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) and the adoption of Ordinance No. S1077, establishing the RHID. Commissioners voted to approve a recommendation from the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) to provide JMAC QOZ Business II, LLC, up to $250,000 to support infrastructure improvements for the Villas at Creekside.
The Pittsburg City Commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm, inside the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center courtroom. Members of the public are encouraged to attend. City commission meetings are broadcast live on the City’s local government access channel and on YouTube.