By Thomas K. Pendergast
Taraval Street between Forest Side and 19th avenues has been designated as a new Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD) in a citywide effort to provide continuity along commercial corridors and discourage property owners from leaving storefronts empty.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed legislation officially recognizing the shopping district as the Inner Taraval NCD.
“When you walk along Taraval Street from Parkside, you do not suddenly see a change in the commercial corridor when you hit 19th Avenue,” a statement released by board president and District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee said. “Taraval Street crosses two supervisorial districts and it was important to me to provide some level of continuity for the businesses in this area. The part of Taraval from 19th to Forest Side should have always been a named NCD, and when the opportunity came before us, we decided to name the section of Taraval in our district.”
While Taraval Street has other NCDs further west, this section was only recognized as such by the Board of Supervisors this past January, as part of an effort to make it and other new NCDs official before the March 3 election when voters will decide on Proposition D, the so-called “vacancy tax” ballot measure.
If passed, it would only apply to officially recognized NCDs that existed before the upcoming election and would tax landlords of commercial space $250 per linear foot of a given shop’s “frontage” – that is the area adjacent or tangent to a public right-of-way – in the 2021 tax year, if these commercial spaces are left empty for more than 182 days within that year. The fee will increase to $500 per linear foot of frontage if the store remains empty through the 2021 tax year and six months into the 2022 tax year.
For the 2023 tax year and subsequent tax years, the tax will be $250 per linear foot of frontage if it had not been vacant in the immediately preceding tax year; $500 per linear foot of frontage if it stays vacant for six months into a second tax year; and $1,000 per linear foot of frontage if the property remains vacant six months into a third year.
Exempted from the tax would be any person upon whom the City is prohibited under the Constitution or laws of the State of California or the Constitution or laws of the United States from imposing the vacancy tax, like any organization that is exempt from income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or if a lessee or sub-lessee has operated a business in the NCD for more than 182 consecutive days during a lease or sublease of at least two years, then the lessee or sub-lessee shall not be liable for the vacancy tax for the remainder of that lease or sublease, regardless of whether that lessee or sub-lessee keeps the space vacant.
Even if Proposition D does not pass, Yee sees other benefits to NCD status.
“Naming Neighborhood Commercial Districts provides merchants and nearby residents more opportunities to preserve the distinct character of their corridor by allowing for different sets of controls. What makes San Francisco so unique is the charm and diversity of different neighborhoods,” Yee’s statement said. “The latest legislation does not change any underlying existing controls, but I am looking forward to hearing from merchants and neighbors about what they hope to see in this new Inner Taraval NCD.”
The Inner Taraval NCD is included in a group of 12 new NCDs throughout the City that the Board fast-tracked through in anticipation of Proposition D coming up on the March 3, 2020 election.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin said this is the largest expansion of NCDs “for many decades.”
“A few have been added one-by-one over the years but adding 12 in six different supervisorial districts is a big deal … and ultimately… will give neighbors and neighborhoods and their supervisors the ability to fine tune those NCDs,” Peskin said.
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