The North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco.

Getty Images

San Francisco Enacts Rules That Penalize Storefront Owners For Vacant Shops

Melissa Culross
April 22, 2019 - 4:31 pm

San Francisco lawmakers are working to reduce the number of vacant storefronts in the city with rules that can impose fines on the owners of empty storefronts.

In a densely populated, thriving city, the local corner store, cafe, bookstore or mom-and-pop hardware stores are what define the varied neighborhoods, according to Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. 

“They are the backbone of what serves our neighborhoods,” she said to KCBS Radio.

Related: Phil Matier: Empty Storefronts

That means an empty storefront is more than just some windows covered in newspaper and why Fewer wrote an ordinance to update San Francisco’s vacant storefront program.

Commercial landlords now must register empty properties with the city within 30 days or pay a fine.

“It allows the Department of Building Inspection to actually create a registry of vacant storefronts so they can also work with [the Office of Economic and Workforce Development> to find people, to actually rent these storefronts out,” she said.

Fewer wrote these changes because she said there was no accurate count of empty retail spaces in her district. Supervisor Vallie Brown, meanwhile, said the demand to rent these commercial properties is there.

“We have so many small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to do this, that want to start a business,” she said.

Commercials property owners also must have empty properties inspected annually.

The ordinance went into effect on Monday.