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Why Are There So Many Vacant Storefronts and What Can We Do About it?

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: People walk by a vacant storefronts for lease on June 11, 2020 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Empty storefronts have peppered neighborhoods across San Francisco and the Bay for decades. One stretch of Mission Street, from 19th to 30th streets, has more than 70 commercial vacancies. In the last few years, the pandemic exacerbated the problem as hundreds of small businesses have closed up shop for good. Cities and business owners are grappling with how to bring back foot traffic to support small businesses, but they face a multitude of challenges. We’ll talk about why so many retail spaces remain vacant and whether blight has seeped into your neighborhood.


Heather Knight, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

Sharky Laguana, former president, San Francisco Small Business Commission; founder and CEO, Bandago; founder and CEO, Campago

Ilana Preuss, founder and CEO, Recast City LLC; author, "Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing"

Alice Kim, owner, Joe’s Ice Cream

Ryen Motzek, president, Mission Merchants Association

Michael Gaines, membership secretary, Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association


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