How ironic that George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, has a column in today's Globe about the environmental damage caused by gas-guzzling vehicles. On Tuesday he will be in front of Boston's Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a variance to allow people to rent gas-guzzling vehicles from the Public Storage warehouse on Lincoln Street in Brighton.
The greening of Boston's taxi fleet - The Boston Globe
As the commenter mentions, in the abstract the idea of renting trucks when people need the extra capacity is much better than people always driving that are much bigger than what they need to drive most of the time. In the same vein, storage facilities are better than people buying houses big enough to store things that they only rarely need to access.
But just as Allston and Brighton already have more storage facilities than we need, we also have more truck rental businesses than we need. We also get more air pollution than the average neighborhood from the cars and trucks on the Mass Pike, Soldiers Field Rd, etc. And Lincoln Street is a particularly dangerous street which doesn't need any more truck traffic.
And finally, from an environmental viewpoint, makes no sense to put storage warehouses (which people visit rarely) in our urban centers. Using this land for housing and commercial space, to let people live closer to their jobs and reduce commuting distances, would be preferable. Housing for something like 75 people could have been built on the 1.2 acres used for the storage warehouse on Lincoln St. If those people worked in nearby job centers in Boston or Cambridge (and especially if they were able to walk, bike, or take public transportation to work) we would following best practices recommended by many sustainability experts. The Urban Land Institute's paper Growing Cooler: Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change is a great overview of how compact cities with housing and jobs in close proximity are key to significant improvements in our environment.