SF officials say too many empty storefronts are contributing to blight

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The rising cost of doing business could be taking a toll on retailers in San Francisco.

A trip around the city will tell you there are a lot of empty storefronts in every neighborhood. City supervisors are hearing the complaints and trying to come up with solutions.

It doesn't matter where you go in San Francisco, there they are -- empty storefronts. There are dozens on Market Street alone.

ANALYSIS: Why empty storefronts line San Francisco's Castro neighborhood

"As a dog walker, I pass them every day," said San Francisco resident Kirk Linn Degrassi. He says it's getting bad. "It's not good for safety of the area."

On Church Street, there are lots of shuttered storefronts. Locked doors are a common sight. In the last two years, 10 businesses have closed up shop.

Near Castro Street, that number is much higher. "I think the Amazon-ing of retail has taken its toll on small business," said Castro Merchants Association's Daniel Bergerac.

High rents have priced many retailers out of business. Monthly rents can range from $5,000 to $50,000 per month, depending on the space.

VIDEO: Retail vacancies rise in San Francisco's Castro District

The San Francisco Land Use and Transportation committee held a hearing about empty storefronts on Monday.

Supervisors agree, a 2009 city ordinance requiring landlords to pay a registration fee after their properties have been vacant more than 30 days has not worked.

"We need to look at what we are doing to encourage commercial store owners to rent out their spaces," said SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

Fewer says possible fines or penalties could be considered for commercial landlords with longtime vacant properties. The committee will revisit the issue in the future.
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