City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) has had enough of storefronts and apartments that go empty - sometimes for years - in even the swankiest of neighborhoods and wants to begin looking at ways to prod landlords to rent the spaces out that could include "vacancy fees."
On Wednesday, O'Malley will ask fellow councilors to allow him to explore the issue in at least one hearing.
Storefronts left vacant for multiple years suggest a market failure, empty residential units remove housing that could otherwise provide homes, and filling vacant space improves the vibrancy and livelihood of our city while placing downward pressure on rents
In his formal hearing request, O'Malley says he would start with data collection on vacant storefronts and residential units in Boston neighborhoods.
But he notes that while Boston has taken a number of carrot-like steps to make it easier to fill storefronts and build more housing - from zoning changes to outright subsidies - it has yet to explore stick-like "disincentives such as fees levied on long-term vacant properties," something he said other major cities, from Vancouver to Paris have begun looking at.
The council's regular meeting begins at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall.