Using a camper as a home in Williston, N.D., could soon become illegal, but it’s unclear where the town’s hundreds of RV residents would park themselves.
The Jamestown Sun reported that many of the RVs are occupied by construction workers who are building permanent housing in Williston to help remedy a housing shortage as a result of the area’s oil boom.
Members of the City Commission have approved the first reading of an ordinance that makes it illegal to live in a camper in city limits unless it is in an RV park. They’re discussing making it a Class B misdemeanor, subject to a $500 fine.
“We have been inundated with people coming here with no place to live,” Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said during a commission meeting.
Williston Police Chief James Lokken estimates there are 300 to 400 campers in parking lots, yards, driveways and other areas throughout town that would be illegal under the new ordinance.
City Commissioner Tate Cymbaluk said the campers are posing health and safety risks to the community. The RVs are already “out of control” and commissioners fear that it’s only going to get worse as the construction season gets under way, he said.
“Our intent is not to just kick people out,” Cymbaluk said. “Our intent is to get some control.”
Palmer Reising, who lives in an RV just outside of Williston city limits, called the ordinance “pointless” and said people are going to disregard it because they don’t have another option.
“People will continue to come. They’re going to flock to Williston and they’re going to park their motorhomes wherever they can find a place,” said Reising, an oilfield shop manager from Cincinnati. “You may as well outlaw boots in Williston. Nothing is going to happen. People are going to keep doing it.”
Commissioners will consider the second reading of the ordinance in two weeks. Cymbaluk said they would likely postpone the effective date of the ordinance.
New RV parks that would add several hundred RV spots are being developed, but it’s unknown if there will be enough to meet the need, Cymbaluk said.