Target Logistics Sues The City Of Williston In "Man Camps" Fight

The folks at Target Logistics just dropped a press releasing announcing a lawsuit, filed in both state and federal court, against the City of Williston over the man camps fight.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Williston’s city leaders have passed an ordinance to ban man camps – or “crew camps” to use the parlance preferred by their operators – which provide dormitory-style lodging to oil and construction industry workers.

The argument from the city is that the camps were meant to be only temporary. They also talk about siding with real estate developers who have invested in hotels and apartment buildings (which, frankly, are massively overbuilt in Williston right now). The developers themselves have claimed that Williston’s city leaders promised that man camps would only be temporary.

Companies like Target Logistics, as well as oil and construction industry companies they serve, have argued that they are providing services to rotation workers who don’t want to sign an apartment lease or rent a hotel room and that the market, not city politic, should dictate whether or not they stay open.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]It seems Williston’s city leaders have no grasp of basic economics. In a boom situation, where wild fluctuations in demand for services are the norm, it’s folly to implement policy promoting permanent development.[/mks_pullquote]

The fight in Williston is important because the companies operating the camps think that other oil patch communities may follow through with bans of their own if Williston wins.

You can read the full press release below.

The lawsuit was perfectly avoidable by the city. The crew camp companies sought, but were denied, a compromise ordinance earlier this year. But also the City of Williston’s hostility to mobile and/or temporary businesses has been extremely short sighted.

It seems Williston’s city leaders have no grasp of basic economics. In a boom situation, where wild fluctuations in demand for services are the norm, it’s folly to implement policy promoting permanent development.

Way back in 2012 I was writing about the city’s fight against mobile, temporary businesses like the “man camps” and even food trucks. “City leaders have also begun limiting temporary structures, such as food vendors, man camps and RVs, in an effort to encourage more permanent development,” Amy Dalrymple reported back then.

In 2016 we can see how short-sighted that policy was. In the short term, fighting man camps and food trucks contributed to shortages for food/housing shortages and no doubt drove up prices.

In the long run, inflated demand for permanent restaurants/housing now has the city overbuilt.

Here’s the full press release:

[scribd id=308223988 key=key-xfO51xV1UfwssHXXLTIi mode=scroll]

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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