San Francisco has been in a housing crisis for years.
A recent study by city government researchers found 1 in 10 of the city’s condos and homes are sitting empty.
For example, at the corner of Third Avenue and Lincoln Way, an entire building sits empty. It's been boarded up for quite a while, enough time for neighbors to wonder what's ever going to be done with it.
"I think there should be a date for long it can remain empty. For a certain amount of time, it's fine,” said San Francisco resident Lauren Turetsky.
The property is in San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston's district. He said it's a prime example of a persistent problem in the city.
"We see in a lot of neighborhoods, buildings that have just been abandoned,” he said. “They sit vacant not just for a year or two years, sometimes five, ten years or more."
But the older buildings are a smaller portion of the overall problem. According to city figures, larger towers and condominium complexes that have been built in the Financial District, SOMA and Mission Districts really make up a larger portion of the empty units in the city.
According to a report by the San Francisco budget and legislative analyst's office's 2019 data, there are about 40, 458 housing units that are sitting empty.
Of that 2019 data, the vast majority have been sold and are unoccupied or they're seasonal, recreational and other occasional housing, or they're off the market renovations, corporate housing or homes tied up in personal family issues.
Preston told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that he is exploring a vacancy tax, aimed at owners who are keeping properties off the market, sometimes for years as a business decision.
"So, one of the things a vacancy tax could do is change that calculation. So now there's actually a cost to holding it vacant. And they're going to be more interested in renting it, or selling it to an owner occupant,” he said.
It's an idea that's raising questions among residents.
"We have to be very careful about being too arbitrary about time limits and very careful about how you define a vacancy,” said San Francisco resident Ray Vandenberg.
Preston is exploring similar taxes that have already been imposed in Vancouver, Canada, Washington DC and Oakland.