Rich San Francisco elites are livid that the private street which their homes are on was sold at auction for a bargain-basement price of $90,000.
After the local homeowners failed to pay their taxes, Michael Cheng and Tina Lam bought the one-block-long street at a city auction. Along the block-long, private oval street are 35 mega-million dollar mansions. Believe it or not, the couple actually managed to outbid several other interested parties.
Now the couple are looking to cash in on their investment – possibly by charging the residents of the mansions to park on the street – that they now own.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the residents value their privacy — and their exclusivity. Past homeowners have included Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her financier husband, Richard Blum; House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi; and the late Mayor Joseph Alioto. A guard is stationed round the clock at the stone-gate entrance to the street to keep the curious away.
So just imagine their surprise when the young couple ended up owning the street, the sidewalks and every single bit of “common ground” in the private community that has been managed by the homeowners’ association since 1905.
That includes a string of well-coiffed garden islands, palm trees and other greenery that enhance the gated and guarded community at the end of Washington Street, just off Arguello Boulevard and down the hill from the Presidio.
“We just got lucky,” said Cheng, a real estate investor.
Apparently, the couple’s new title as “swanky street landlord” was the culmination of a series of bizarre events. The city was sending a $14-per-year tax bill to the homeowners association for three decades, and it wasn’t being paid – but that’s because the address the bill was sent to is now a pilates studio and wasn’t the accountant’s office since the 1980s.
The purchase actually took place in 2015, but the couple have kept quiet about it. Now they see a potential financial windfall. There are 120 parking spaces on the oval street that they now control. “We could charge reasonable rent for it,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, the residents were more than a little upset when they belatedly found out what had happened.
They didn’t learn that their street and sidewalks had been sold until they were contacted May 30 by a title search company working on behalf of Cheng and Lam, said Emblidge. The title search outfit wanted to know if the residents had any interest in buying back the property from the couple, the lawyer said.
“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,” said one homeowner, who asked not to be named because of pending litigation.
The neighbors are suing to have the sale overturned, but since it was two years ago – and the city followed the rules – it’s going to be hard to do.
Treasurer-Tax Collector Jose Cisneros’ office says the city did what the law requires.
“Ninety-nine percent of property owners in San Francisco know what they need to do, and they pay their taxes on time — and they keep their mailing address up to date,” said spokeswoman Amanda Fried.
“There is nothing that our office can do” about the sale now, she added.
I think the Germans call it Schadenfreude – taking pleasure at the misfortune of others. And if the people living in that ritzy little oval are the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, I’m practically giggly with it.