Chapter 5D
VACANT COMMERCIAL SPACE IN THE DOWNTOWN HISTORIC AND DOWNTOWN EXPANSION DISTRICTS

Sections:

5D.1    Purpose.

5D.2    Scope.

5D.3    Administration.

5D.4    Definitions.

5D.5    General minimum maintenance requirements.

5D.6    Vacant commercial space registration.

5D.7    Window displays for commercial spaces not occupied for ninety (90) days.

5D.8    Fees for vacant commercial space registration.

5D.9    Delinquent registration fees—Collection.

5D.10    Duty to amend registration statement.

5D.11    Inspections.

5D.12    Enforcement.

5D.13    Sunset.

5D.1 Purpose.

Commercial buildings that are vacant for an extended period of time may adversely affect surrounding businesses, detract from the appearance of a vibrant downtown, and may contribute to blighted conditions that negatively impact the entire community. The purpose of this chapter is to minimize these adverse effects by preserving and improving the appearance of downtown Gilroy by requiring ground-floor windows of vacant commercial buildings in the Downtown Historic and Downtown Expansion Districts to be aesthetically pleasing when viewed from the street and sidewalk. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.2 Scope.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all structures in the Downtown Historic District and the Downtown Expansion District, unless otherwise stated, including, but not limited to, properties that have been the subject of a foreclosure sale wherein title has been transferred to the beneficiary of a deed of trust involved in the foreclosure, and to any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure or sale. All responsible persons shall comply with the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.3 Administration.

This chapter will be administered by, and may be enforced by, the community development director or his or her designee, who may adopt administrative rules and regulations consistent with its terms. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.4 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter:

“City” means the City of Gilroy.

“Commercial space” means any portion of a structure in the Downtown Historic District or Downtown Expansion District that is not intended for residential use.

“Downtown Historic District” and “Downtown Expansion District” mean the respective zoning districts of the city, as defined in the Gilroy Zoning Ordinance.

Occupied. A commercial space is deemed to be “occupied” when a permitted, nonresidential tenant or user resides in or is physically located in, and is lawfully and actively operating in, the space for at least thirty (30) days and meets the proof of physical occupancy criteria as set forth in Section 5D.6(f).

“Responsible person” means any person, firm, association, corporation, business entity, trustee, or receiver, or agent thereof, which owns, leases, rents or has lawful possession of a structure in the Downtown Historic District or in the Downtown Expansion District.

“Vacant commercial space” means any portion of a street-level commercial space that is not occupied and has not been occupied for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days at the time the ordinance codified in this chapter becomes effective or any time thereafter. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.5 General minimum maintenance requirements.

Responsible persons shall at all times maintain all structures they own, lease, rent or lawfully possess in the Downtown Historic District and Downtown Expansion District pursuant to the Gilroy City Code, the Gilroy Zoning Ordinance and the current construction codes contained in Chapter 6, as amended by the city council. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.6 Vacant commercial space registration.

(a) At least one (1) responsible person for each vacant commercial space must register that space with the city in accordance with this chapter within ten (10) consecutive days of the date the space becomes vacant commercial space.

(b) In order to register a vacant commercial space, as required by this chapter, a responsible person must submit to the community development director, or his or her designee, all of the following information in writing:

(1) The street address and assessor’s parcel number of the vacant commercial space;

(2) The name, address, and daytime and evening telephone numbers of each responsible person for the vacant commercial space, including any owner or tenant;

(3) The period of time the vacant commercial space is estimated to remain vacant; and

(4) Any other information requested by the community development director or his or her designee for the administration of this chapter.

(c) The registration of a vacant commercial space subject to this chapter must be renewed annually no later than January 1st of each year that the space was vacant.

(d) The registration of a vacant commercial space subject to this chapter must be renewed within ninety (90) consecutive days of its change of ownership.

(e) Initial and renewal registrations must be submitted on forms to be provided by the community development director, which forms shall be filled out completely and signed by at least one (1) responsible person.

(f) Upon satisfactory proof to the community development director, or his or her designee, that a vacant commercial space is and has been occupied for at least thirty (30) consecutive days, the vacant commercial space will be unregistered. Proof of physical occupation may include, but is not limited to, proof of the presence of usable furniture, office equipment, retail inventory or other equipment and inventory in the street-level commercial space that is consistent with the structure’s intended use, and the regular presence of persons using the street-level commercial space for its intended use. Proof of physical occupancy must also include documentation of occupancy, which may include, but is not limited to, an executed lease agreement, or valid state and local business licenses indicating the subject space is the official business address of the person or business claiming occupancy.

(g) The determination of the number of vacant commercial spaces a structure contains for purposes of registration will be made by the community development director or his or her designee. The number of vacant commercial spaces will be determined by the physical areas that have separate entrances to the commercial space from a public entry or a joint tenant corridor and/or entry to the commercial space.

(h) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to a vacant commercial space if the following apply:

(1) The window display area space is the subject of a current, valid building permit for repair or rehabilitation and the responsible person provides proof, such as receipts, invoices or executed contracts, that the repair or rehabilitation is proceeding without significant delay. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.7 Window displays for commercial spaces not occupied for (90) ninety days.

Whether or not a vacant commercial space is registered pursuant to this chapter, if any commercial space in the Downtown Historic District or Expansion District has been unoccupied for more than ninety (90) consecutive days at the time this chapter becomes effective or any time thereafter, then responsible persons shall immediately construct and/or install at least one (1) of the following types of displays on or inside all ground-floor windows that face sidewalks, streets, alleys, or public open spaces:

(a) Faux window dressings containing goods or services with the visual characteristics of a vibrant business using background panels or other methods to screen views of the unoccupied space from the street, sidewalk and public areas;

(b) Works of art or other displays of cultural, historical, or educational value, using background panels or other methods to screen views of the unoccupied space from the street, sidewalk and public areas;

(c) Window paintings featuring visually appealing scenes depicting or suggesting business or cultural activities; or

(d) Other measures consistent with these examples, if approved in writing by the community development director or his or her designee, in his/her discretion. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.8 Fees for vacant commercial space registration.

(a) At least one (1) responsible person shall pay an annual registration fee for each registered vacant commercial space that is separately owned or leased. In the case of a newly constructed or remodeled building in which individual spaces are not separately owned or leased, a single initial and annual registration fee shall be paid to cover all commercial spaces within the building. At least one responsible person must pay an initial registration fee to the city at the time the space is registered, and must pay an annual renewal registration fee by January 1st each following year that the space or spaces remain vacant. Registration fees will not be prorated. These registration and fee requirements are applicable to any vacant commercial space in the Downtown Historic District or Expansion District that at the time the ordinance codified in this chapter becomes effective or any time thereafter. The fees will be as follows:

(1) Initial registration: one hundred twenty dollars ($120.00).

(2) Annual renewal registration: one hundred twenty dollars ($120.00).

(b) The fees are intended to defray the costs of administering this chapter and may be changed by resolution of the city council to meet these costs. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.9 Delinquent registration fees—Collection.

If a responsible person fails to pay the registration fee by the due date, the city is authorized to take action to collect the registration fee including a ten percent (10%) per month late payment penalty and its costs of collection, including attorneys’ fees, by use of any and all available legal means; in which case such penalties and costs incurred by the city as a result of the collection process will be assessed to the responsible person or responsible persons in addition to the registration fee. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.10 Duty to amend registration statement.

Responsible persons for any registered vacant commercial space shall advise the community development director or his or her designee, in writing, of any changes to the information on the registration form within thirty (30) consecutive days of the occurrence of the change. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.11 Inspections.

The community development director or his or her designee, or code enforcement officers, or both are authorized to conduct inspections to enforce the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.12 Enforcement.

(a) The city may enforce the provisions of this chapter by any of the provisions of the Gilroy City Code, which are in addition to any other remedies provided for by law. Said remedies shall be cumulative and not exclusive.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any responsible person to violate or fail to comply with any provisions of this chapter. Each responsible person commits a separate offense for each and every day they commit, continue or permit a violation of any provision of this chapter.

(c) Any responsible person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction, and upon conviction, shall be punished as set forth in Government Code Section 36900, as it now exists or may hereafter be amended.

(d) All responsible persons are jointly and severally responsible with respect to compliance with all provisions of this chapter and for any payments required to be made to the city under this chapter, including but not limited to registration fees, late penalties, and costs of collection and enforcement, including attorneys’ fees and costs. If the commercial space is subject to a lease, the city shall have discretion to determine whether to enforce this chapter against the commercial space owner, the tenant, or both of them. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)

5D.13 Sunset.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to any vacant commercial space in the Downtown Historic District or Expansion District that has been unoccupied for more than ninety (90) consecutive days at the time the ordinance codified in this chapter becomes effective or any time thereafter. Further, the provisions of this chapter shall terminate on the same termination date of the Seismic Safety Ordinance No. 2011-07 and be of no further force and effect, unless extended by a resolution of the city council. (Ord. No. 2012-02, § 1, 2-6-12)