SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The increasingly common site of vacant buildings and empty storefronts around San Francisco despite the thriving economy has local business owners and city officials pushing for change.

It’s not just that Amazon has changed the shopping habits of many, or that rising rents have forced some mom and pop stores out of business.

Daniel Bergerac of the Castro Merchants Association tells KPIX 5 what makes it even more difficult is that the storefronts stay empty, sometimes for years at a time.

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That level of blight can make it harder for all the neighboring business. And Bergerac says landlords don’t seem to feel any pressure to rent them back out.

“The laws of supply and demand work everywhere except for San Francisco retail space,” said Bergerac. “There is nothing that is there to push them into renting the spaces.”

The city has fined some landlords of vacant storefronts, but those fines often total just under $700 a year. More often, landlords manage to find loopholes.

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For example, if a landlord puts a “for sale” or “for rent” sign out front, they don’t have to pay the fine. That leads some property owners to simply wait for another tenant who is willing to pay a higher rent.

“As a landlord, unless they really nail me, I’m probably going to ride it out,” explained San Francisco landlord Dave Burleigh. “Because the risks of giving somebody a 5 or 10 year lease and not having it work out could be a lot greater for me.”

San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Fewer says she is working on legislation that would increase the fines property owners face in addition to putting other kinds of pressure on landlords to get vacant storefronts back on the market more quickly.

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“You’re part of our neighborhood. You’re part of the vitality of that commercial corridor,” said Fewer. “Because you’re an empty storefront, you’re adding to blight. I say that is being fairly selfish, quite frankly. And I actually think it’s time we crack down on it.”

Supervisor Fewer told KPIX 5 she will introduce that legislation by the end of the year.

Comments (23)
  1. Tom Irvine says:

    Does this have something to do with poop and syringe needles?

  2. David Gosselin says:

    Consider the location, San Francisco, California. Who wants to do business in a town with streets full of homeless people.

  3. Joe Milligan says:

    It is the homeless stupid

  4. Dave Fay says:

    Who would want to venture into the streets of San Francisco that are covered with poop, urine, used needles to go shopping?

  5. Shopper don’t want to have to wear waders to visit these stores…Then again there’s the taxes and mounds of asinine paperwork needed to open a business in that area…

  6. Bevo Francis says:

    If the few people with brains in California voted the democrats and socialist out of office everyone would be better off. Don’t hold your breath.

  7. Greg Olinger says:

    Socialists can be bad for your state as well as a Country. Just ask Venezuela and now California.

  8. Patrick Monk RN says:

    For example. “SURREAL FOODS”. 24th St. Noe Valley. Can’t blame homeless, needle, or poop for this debacle. Typical greed and rent gouging, as is true in most situations.

  9. Larry Hughes says:

    Lot of empty store fronts in Venezuela too, same political system.

  10. Nick Cignetti says:

    You will have that when socialism is in power. Bring flowers in your hair to watch San Fran disappear.

  11. I left my heart in San Francisco, but not my wallet. See this on Drudge? There’s more real California news at too.

  12. Gary Stefancik says:

    Empty store fronts are what you get with socialism. That and poop on the street.

  13. Eric Williams says:

    I’m glad I live in Texas but I wish libs from Cali would quit moving here. You made your mess now live in it!

  14. Brian Driscoll says:

    Only in loopy San Fran could something so preposterous occur as a fine on debt free vacant property.

  15. A democrat run city and state sucks the very life out. Rising taxes with ever changing rules and regulations prevent new business and long term tenant and landlord comments. THE-RIGHT-VIEW.BLOGSPOT.COM.

  16. Joe Daigle says:

    San Franchitco has got some problems, the least of which is a lack of places to spend money. When dems run a city, it’s never run well.

  17. Mike France says:

    turn them into public toilets and heroin dens. Problem solved

  18. Oh good, the Leftist administration in charge is already actively working on a legislative way to make the problem worse through additional government regulations and oversight. I was worried there for a moment…

  19. Bob Suyak says:

    Run by by liberals, maybe people are tired of the sh.t.