by William Skink
When I read this article about Missoula County “reluctantly” considering zoning changes for more storage units being built in East Missoula, I was immediately curious what the reluctance was all about.
It turns out land-use planners, despite their title, can be very ignorant about why land is being used for certain things. In this case, storage units. From the link:
“I don’t love storage units. I don’t know that anybody does,” said Paul Forsting, a land-use planner with Territorial Landworks. “But for whatever reason, they’re needed. We seem to have a demand for storage units.”
Paul the land-use planner has a job, and that job is planning how land will be used. Why is Paul so befuddled by storage units? Let me help Paul out.
The “for whatever reason” reason behind the need for storage units is pretty simple, and can be summed up by this equation: shitty economy + unaffordable housing = storage units.
When I worked at the shelter I knew lots of clients who maintained storage units. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that people who lose their housing might not want to also lose all their worldly possessions. So they rent a storage unit.
If Paul gave it some thought, I bet he could figure this out. It’s just that all his time is probably taken up with MIXED-USE this and MIXED-USE that. I imagine a lot of planning must go into mixing up uses for land, so Paul is probably a busy guy.
And he has no love for storage units.