Couple buys posh San Francisco street from right under homeowners' feet

Gladys Abbott
August 8, 2017

Per Curbed, the Presidio Terrace Association filed a complaint claiming that the address the city used to bill the association was not associated with any of its members.

The couple, Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, who run real estate firm Archers Capital, bought Presidio Terrace, a one-block oval street just northwest of downtown San Francisco.

The cul-de-sac's asphalt, sidewalk and manicured lawns now belong to the couple. According to the Chronicle, Cheng and Lam's property comes with plenty of financial opportunity, including making residents pay for street parking.

The couple was able to buy the incredibly valuable private way for so little money because the neighborhood's homeowner's association repeatedly failed to pay a $14-a-year property tax bill, which led the city of San Francisco to auction the street to recoup lost revenue.

The couple plans to make a profit from the street by charging residents for parking, as it reportedly has 120 parking spaces.

Residents are now angry that the city did not notify residents of Presidio Terrace about the sale - but Treasurer-Tax Collector Jose Cisneros' office says everything was done lawfully.

In the intervening two years, Lam and Cheng have been looking at ways to monetize their newly acquired plot.

"We just got lucky", Cheng said.

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Cheng, speaking via Facetime from Florida on Monday, said he and his partner are thinking about either renting parking spots or possibly putting up meters.

Driven insane: Lam and Cheng are now planning to charge for parking on the road, which is upsetting residents.

Attorney Scott Emblidge explained in an August letter to the city that the reason the property tax bill had gone unpaid was that it was being sent to the address of an accountant on Kearny Street whom the association had not employed since the 1980s.

'I was shocked to learn this could happen, and am deeply troubled that anyone would choose to take advantage of the situation and buy our street and sidewalks, ' one homeowner, who did not wish to be named, told the Chronicle.

But city spokeswoman Amanda Fried was unapologetic.

'And they keep their mailing address up to date'. "There is nothing that our office can do" about the sale. The private road the homeowners association has owned for more than a century?

That may not be an easy matter, however, because the sale went through two years ago. Dianne Feinstein and her Wall Street husband, Richard Blum, as well as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and late Mayor Joseph Alioto.

But residents were the left in the dark - they didn't know their street and sidewalks had been purchased until May 30, when a title search company reached out to ask if any of the residents had interest in buying back the property.

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