The City Council on Tuesday night voted to ask the city manager’s office to look into establishing vacancy fees on empty retail property.

The council voted unanimously to support a proposal put forward by City Councilman Jesse Arreguin to consider levying a fee when a storefront has been vacant for six months, and escalating the fee the longer the store is empty. (See full Berkeleyside story here.)

“Some Council members also raised several issues they wanted the staff to look at,” Arreguin wrote Berkeleyside in an email. “Such as why (so much) ground floor space is vacant? In addition to the vacancy fee are there other regulatory changes we could make such as amending the zoning to streamline the process, to shorten the cost and time to get permits, and are there incentives we could offer to owners to rent their spaces. They wanted the City Manager and staff to also take a broader look at the issue and see what package of proposals could we develop to fill vacant spaces.”

The council did not set a timeline for the city manager to return with a report.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...