Six goals for making Salem, Oregon a much better place - HinesSight
I would revise 6 to read "Discourage Unused and Underused Space by Charging Owners for Degrading The City" -- instead of putting the city even more into the "subsidy for business" business, we let the market figure out what's best, by forcing building owners to pay a rising fee monthly for each month after a minimum (3?) that a developed lot or storefront within the downtown core remains vacant or underused.
The money would go into funds for downtown projects, so it would benefit the downtown businesses indirectly, and help ameliorate the burden they bear because other building owners let their properties be idle so long, exerting a drag on all downtown businesses.
In this way, instead of promoting graft and city government cronyism, we get a uniform, transparent policy that will strongly incent landlords to find and keep suitable tenants downtown, or sell to someone who will use the space themselves or wants to be a better landlord at rents the market is willing to pay.
Right now, we're suffering from landlords who aren't paying high enough carrying charges on their buildings, so they're fine with no rent coming in too long. Rather than raise taxes generally, we should simply penalize the landlords who impose costs on downtown with their refusals to bring the rents down enough to get a tenant into the space."Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."