While they’ve been discussing it for a couple months now, the Williston City Commission made its decision last week to ban living in an RV within city limits.
In a unanimous decision, the commission pulled the trigger on the ban that it had been mulling for more than two months. The ban on living in an RV on residential property will go into effect on Sept. 1, while the ban on living in RVs on a industrial or commercial property will begin on Nov. 1.
There will, however, be a system to allow construction workers’ RVs on a construction site, on a limited basis. The commissioners also noted that they are working on another set of ordinances to address on-site living for other types of workers.
Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said they decided to enact the ban – which was already technically in place, but not enforced – in spite of much public opposition because a few bad apples forced their hand.
“I have heard from an increasing number of people who were concerned, frustrated … They didn’t feel safe anymore, they didn’t feel like they could let their kids play out in the yard,” he said after the meeting. “Obviously if everyone would have behaved, we’d have been OK.”
This decision is understandable, but it’s going to be a tough blow to both workers and employers. Not everybody employed in the area is an oil field worker making $80,000 per year or living in a man camp or other company housing. For many of the people employed in the service and construction industry in Williston, housing costs are still too high to be affordable. Some even expressed that they would have to leave town when the ordnance takes effect on September 1st.
In the past, retail store owners and managers also expressed concern about the proposed law, saying they can’t afford to pay their workers enough to afford housing, and they would lose employees under the new law.