A savvy couple from the South Bay who do some real estate investing happened to catch that a private street, and all the common areas surrounding it including sidewalks and planted medians, went up for auction two years ago due to an unpaid property tax bill. That street is Presidio Terrace, part of what was built as a private, gated enclave around 1905 at the edge of the Presidio, and once home to the likes of Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi. There are 35 multi-million-dollar mansions facing the oval-shaped cul de sac, which has a manned guard station paid for by the residents, and as the Chronicle reports, a snafu relating to a $14-per-year tax bill that had been being sent to the wrong address for over 30 years led to Tina Lam and Michael Cheng buying Presidio Terrace for $90,000. And it's taken a while for the residents of the tony enclave to realize the implications of this, namely that Lam and Cheng want some return on their investment, which they may try to get by charging rent for street parking.
It's an amusing story, of course, especially because the "victims" here are all insanely wealthy, and naturally the Presidio Homeowners Association has lawyered up and is seeking to get the Board of Supervisors to nullify the 2015 sale of their street.
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. The bill, which amounted to $994 in back taxes, is what the city was seeking to recoup in putting the street up for auction.
The City Treasurer's office says there's nothing they can do about the sale now, and they doubt that the Board of Supervisors will be able to rescind the sale at this point. The homeowners now assume that the threat to charge them for parking is part of a plan by Lam and Cheng to get them to buy the street back for a tidy profit which, not a bad plan.
For their part, though, they say they have no plans to sell right now, and they were quick to point out the irony of their purchase to the Chronicle as well: Presidio Terrace was, until the 1940s, a whites-only development protected by a racial covenant. That was struck down in a 1948 Supreme Court decision that banned the enforcement of such covenants.
A hearing about the potential rescission of the sale is scheduled for October.