Article from Reason by Christian Britschgi.

If you tax something, you generally get less of it. That logic undergirds a San Francisco ballot measure that would tax vacant storefronts in hopes of filling them with thriving retail businesses.

The tax rate would start out at $250 per linear foot of storefront that’s vacant in 2021, rising to $500 for properties that are vacant in that year and the next, and maxing out at $1,000 per linear foot for storefronts that are vacant for three years in a row.

“The majority of the building owners, and certainly retail brokers like myself, all are aggressively trying to fill these vacant spaces,” wrote Hansson. “In almost all cases, the rent is not the stumbling block; it’s the high cost of starting the business, strict government regulations, and the risk of ultimate success.”

Hansson points to city regulations and, in particular, zoning laws that require additional approvals for chain businesses with over 12 locations from setting up shop in parts of the city, as making retail space harder to lease out.

Read the entire article at Reason.