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(a) San Francisco’s neighborhood commercial districts prioritize street-level, customer-facing businesses as a means of stimulating a bustling, pedestrian-friendly urban environment. Retail storefronts are the building blocks of neighborhood vitality, encouraging people to stroll through San Francisco’s streets, sidewalks, parks, and other open spaces, and inviting them in.
(b) San Francisco residents and visitors have an interest in preserving the vitality of commercial corridors in these districts. Vacant storefronts in otherwise vibrant neighborhood commercial districts degrade the urban environment and reduce the quality of life in those neighborhoods, leading to blight and crime, particularly when storefronts stay empty for extended periods of time. Further, the resulting blight negatively impacts other small businesses in the area by discouraging foot traffic and eroding the character and uniqueness of San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods and communities.
(c) Retail vacancies may occur when property owners are performing tenant improvements for prospective tenants, while actively seeking a new commercial tenant, or following a disaster requiring wholescale rehabilitation of a structure. These temporary vacancies reflect a property owner’s desire to maintain the active retail storefront environment of San Francisco’s neighborhood commercial corridors and to continue contributing to the surrounding community.
(d) But in other instances, retail vacancies occur when a property owner or landlord fails to actively market a vacant retail storefront to viable commercial tenants and/or fails to offer the property at a reasonable rate. Retail vacancies may persist as property owners and landlords hold storefronts off of the market for extended periods of time or refuse to offer the space for a reasonable market rate.
(e) The purpose of the Vacancy Tax is to stimulate the rehabilitation of long-term retail vacancies, and, in turn, to reinvigorate commercial corridors and stabilize commercial rents, thereby allowing new small businesses to open and existing small businesses to thrive.
(f) By dedicating proceeds from the Vacancy Tax to the Small Business Assistance Fund, the Vacancy Tax will also assist small businesses and provide relief to those small businesses adversely affected by blight, crime, and other negative impacts caused by vacant storefronts in San Francisco.
(Added by Proposition D, 3/3/2020, Eff. 4/17/2020, Oper. 1/1/2021)