The oil industry and the city of Williston are still at odds over temporary worker housing, and it seems neither party is willing to back away from City Ordinance 1038.
Last week the Williston City Commission voted against a compromise which would have allowed some temporary worker housing facilities to remain open. The proposed compromise would have reduced the number of temporary worker beds in the city and would reduce the population in 1-mile extraterritorial by about half by 2017.
“Crew camps reduce pressure on local housing, keeping it affordable and available for permanent residents while meeting specific needs of temporary oil and gas employees,” said Target Logistics Regional Vice President Travis Kelley in a statement.
“For the City of Williston and its residents, crew camps mean fewer emergency calls, reduced traffic, safer travel, less pressure on city infrastructure for water and sewer services, and better options for when the industry and employment recover,” Kelley continued.
Housing market vs. energy market
At the City Commission meeting last week, however, housing and hotel investors in the area offered warnings regarding the state of the housing market, according to the Williston Herald. They argued that with declining occupancy rates in hotels and apartments, allowing temporary worker housing to continue operating would be detrimental to the area’s real estate sector.
The oil industry, though, has come together to push for an agreement that benefits all with the 1038 Housing Compromise Alliance. The group represents the interests of 13 of North Dakota’s largest oil and gas producers, 14 service and supply companies and four community associations and groups.
Despite the dropping occupancy rates and rent prices, the Alliance argues that rotational workers (as well as the workers that may come with another surge of activity) have no interest in signing onto, for example, a rental lease.
In a statement, 1038 Housing Compromise Alliance spokesman Rob Lindberg said, “Single-family homes and apartments aren’t designed to be shared by crews of workers. The use by a temporary workforce affects the character of neighborhoods, displaces families and the elderly, and encourages high prices and excess investment. Likewise, hotels should be dedicated to travelers – conventions, meetings, business travelers, short-term workers, tourists and youth sports teams – not rotational work crews.”