Image courtesy of Joshua Doubek/Wikimedia Commons.

City officials in North Dakota’s oil-rich Williston area are considering an ordinance that would effectively ban temporary housing communities for oil workers.

According to Reuters, Williston city officials will cast a final vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would bar “man camps” from receiving occupancy permit extensions beyond July 2016.

The Williston City Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of the ordinance earlier this month. 

City officials said the ban is intended to encourage oil workers to take up permanent residence in the city or use established hotels for extended stays in the Bakken area, boosting the city’s lodging tax revenues.

The temporary housing facilities pay the city an annual $400 per bed fee in lieu of property or lodging taxes.

With nearly 3,000 beds provided by four camps in the area, Williston could lose at least $1.2 million per year if the permit ban passes, Reuters said.

“The man camp industry should understand we allowed them to come here on a temporary basis,” Williston mayor Howard Klug told Reuters.

Temporary housing companies said the ban could also force the facilities to lay off more than 200 local employees.

Most of the temporary housing facilities in Williston provide both men and women with single occupancy rooms or trailers in communities that often ban the use of alcohol and overnight guests.

Proponents of the camps argue that workers need flexible housing solutions to deal with rising upstream cut backs and waves of layoffs.

“Not all beds are not created equal. We provide a service for a special kind of worker,” Peter Eberle of Reliant Asset Management, a temporary housing facility operator in Williston, told Reuters.


  1. Brilliant. I particularly like the mayor’s comments that include the words, “We allowed.” Lots of money has poured into ND in the past few years. I suppose they “allowed” that also. Yet another sign of elected officials misdirecting the concept of public service to public servants. They will reap the results.

  2. Maybe move the man camps away from the city limits and closer to Watford City. I am sure that Watford City would appreciate the increased spending by oil workers since Williston doesn’t want that income any longer.

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