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Old 08-07-17, 04:37 PM   #1
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Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

This is hilarious!

A bunch of rich people "forgot" to pay the taxes on their privately owned street.

So the street was sold at public auction.

The new owner might allow (oh the horrors) outsiders to rent parking spaces on the street.

The taxes went unpaid for decades. Some previous residents of the street (who, depending on when they moved away, may or may not be among the tax cheaters) include Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein.


http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/m...pid=fb-premium

Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

August 7, 2017

Thanks to a little-noticed auction sale, a South Bay couple are the proud owners of one of the most exclusive streets in San Francisco — and they’re looking for ways to make their purchase pay.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng snatched up Presidio Terrace — the block-long, private oval street lined by 35 megamillion-dollar mansions — for $90,000 and change in a city-run auction stemming from an unpaid tax bill. They outlasted several other bidders.

Now they’re looking to cash in — maybe by charging the residents of those mansions to park on their own private street.

Those 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 imagine the residents’ surprise when San Jose residents Cheng and Lam wound up with the street, its sidewalks and every other bit of “common ground” in the private development that has been managed by the homeowners since at least 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.

The homeowners, however, are crying foul and want the Board of Supervisors to negate the sale.

The couple’s purchase appears to be the culmination of a comedy of errors involving a $14-a-year property tax bill that the homeowners association failed to pay for three decades. It’s something that the owners of all 181 private streets in San Francisco are obliged to do.

In a letter to the city last month, Scott Emblidge, the attorney for the Presidio Homeowners Association, said the group had failed to pay up because its tax bill was being mailed to the Kearny Street address used by an accountant who hadn’t worked for the homeowners since the 1980s.

Two years ago, the city’s tax office put the property up for sale in an online auction, seeking to recover $994 in unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest. Cheng and Lam, trawling for real estate opportunities in the city, pounced on the offer — snatching up the parcel with a $90,100 bid, sight unseen.

Since the purchase in April 2015, the couple have been quietly sitting on the property, talking to a number of land-use attorneys to explore their options.

“We were looking to get title insurance so it could be marketable,” Cheng said.

He and his wife see plenty of financial opportunity — especially from the 120 parking spaces on the street that they now control.

“We could charge a reasonable rent on it,” Cheng said.

And if the Presidio Terrace residents aren’t interested in paying for parking privileges, perhaps some of their neighbors outside the gates — in a city where parking is at a premium — would be.

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.

Last month, the homeowners petitioned the Board of Supervisors for a hearing to rescind the tax sale. The board has scheduled a hearing for October.

In addition, the homeowners association has sued the couple and the city, seeking to block Cheng and Lam from selling the street to anyone while the city appeal is pending — a move residents fear could complicate their efforts to reclaim the land.

The residents say the city had an obligation to post a notice in Presidio Terrace notifying neighbors of the pending auction back in 2015 — something that “would have been simple and inexpensive for the city to accomplish.”

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.

Fried said that as far as she knows, the Board of Supervisors “has never done a hearing of rescission” — and that because it’s been more than two years since Cheng and Lam bought the property, it could be tough to overturn the sale now.

As for the threat to charge them for parking, the residents suspect it’s part of a pressure campaign by the couple to force the homeowners association to shell out big bucks to buy back the street.

The couple, however, say they’re in no hurry to sell.

“I’m a first-generation immigrant, and the first time I came to San Francisco I fell in love with the city,” said Lam, an engineer in Silicon Valley who was born in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. for college.

“I really just wanted to own something in San Francisco because of my affinity for the city,” Lam said.

There’s a bit of irony in the couple’s purchase. Until a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning the enforcement of racial covenants, homes in Presidio Terrace could be purchased only by whites.

“The more we dug into this,” said the Taiwan-born Cheng, “the more interesting it got.”
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Old 08-07-17, 04:49 PM   #2
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

This is bad news for kvrdave. Apparently we even have to outsource slumlord jobs to immigrants now.
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Old 08-07-17, 04:57 PM   #3
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

This is hilarious.
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Old 08-07-17, 04:57 PM   #4
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

So this is basically the same as the guy in Texas who has to pay $60k in back child support because he got caught by a bureaucratic oversight years ago.

I'm sure the residents of the Presidio Terrace will have to pay through the nose to get their street back.
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Old 08-07-17, 05:06 PM   #5
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
So this is basically the same as the guy in Texas who has to pay $60k in back child support because he got caught by a bureaucratic oversight years ago.

I'm sure the residents of the Presidio Terrace will have to pay through the nose to get their street back.
No, it's not the same. He wasn't the father. Most people felt sorry for him.

But these people are guilty - they cheated on their taxes. And no one feels sorry for them..
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Old 08-07-17, 05:12 PM   #6
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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Originally Posted by grundle View Post
No, it's not the same. He wasn't the father. Most people felt sorry for him.

But these people are guilty - they cheated on their taxes. And no one feels sorry for them..
They paid all the taxes that they were told to pay.

Nobody has told the residents to pay the street tax since the 1980s. I'd bet that most of the residents moved there after the tax bills stopped coming, so they never knew that such a thing existed.

People feel sorry for the guy in Texas because they could see the same thing happening to someone like them. People don't feel sorry for the homeowners in San Francisco, not on the merits, but because they don't know anyone who's so rich that he lives on a private street. Schadenfreude.
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Old 08-07-17, 05:15 PM   #7
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

I think this is awesome!
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Old 08-07-17, 05:30 PM   #8
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
They paid all the taxes that they were told to pay.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
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Old 08-07-17, 05:44 PM   #9
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Really, this is in the Political forum?

The sale will end up being voided, Cheng and Lam will get their money back with a little interest and everyone can move on.

If Cheng and Lam start to feel their oaks and think they should fight in court, watch the city hit them with a vast list of improvements that they, as the owners, will have to pay for unless they take the buyout.

Edit: Oh and just in case someone here doesn't know how it works, the city will actually perform the upgrades and invoice the owners. So the owners will not be able to perform the upgrades on the cheap.
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Old 08-07-17, 05:56 PM   #10
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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Originally Posted by WCChiCubsFan View Post
Really, this is in the Political forum?

The sale will end up being voided, Cheng and Lam will get their money back with a little interest and everyone can move on.

If Cheng and Lam start to feel their oaks and think they should fight in court, watch the city hit them with a vast list of improvements that they, as the owners, will have to pay for unless they take the buyout.

Edit: Oh and just in case someone here doesn't know how it works, the city will actually perform the upgrades and invoice the owners. So the owners will not be able to perform the upgrades on the cheap.
Well that is going against what the city is saying...do you have something to show different?

I regularly read stories like this. But not on streets but on homes and businesses where owners failed to pay taxes and the city auctioned off the property. Cheng and Lam, per the article, are "in this business". They seem to do this all the time. I can only assume they "flip" the properties for profit.

The super silly part is, they would probably flip it in a heart beat to all the homeowners for a million or so. Which is penny's for the property owners. But the owners are probably to proud they got "swindled".

I don't see why the city would go back on the sale (the article mentions, that is not something they do). All the city wanted was the tax money. They got it.
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Old 08-07-17, 06:00 PM   #11
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Only known photo of the buyer:
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Old 08-07-17, 06:10 PM   #12
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Quote:
Originally Posted by DVD Josh View Post
Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Wikipedia says that there is an exception for tax law.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:09 PM   #13
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Quote:
Originally Posted by DVD Josh View Post
Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
Wikipedia says that there is an exception for tax law.
What are, how you say it, "taxes"?

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Old 08-07-17, 07:13 PM   #14
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Surprisingly SF is the 4th biggest city in California and not the second.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:42 PM   #15
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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Surprisingly SF is the 4th biggest city in California and not the second.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:44 PM   #16
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

Given that the property taxes were $14 a year, I don't think anything was "dodged" here. It seems like a misunderstanding about where to send the bill. Perhaps residents of that neighborhood should form an HOA, and if they already have one they should raise hell with the board.
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Old 08-07-17, 08:02 PM   #17
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Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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Given that the property taxes were $14 a year, I don't think anything was "dodged" here. It seems like a misunderstanding about where to send the bill. Perhaps residents of that neighborhood should form an HOA, and if they already have one they should raise hell with the board.
If I read the article correct the homeowners in the area (I'm unclear if they technically had a HOA or not) were using an accountant. But he no longer worked for them for decades and that was where the tax bills were going.

There are a lot of unanswered questions. A responsible professional would have forwarded those notices. Maybe they are now retired and/or don't live at that address. If that accountant no longer worked for them who took over those functions? And why didn't they know about the taxes (what else don't they know about?).

The homeowners are claiming the city should have posted a sign on the property that it was being auctioned off. Yet I did not read that this was a requirement and the city states they followed the law. Is posting a sign unreasonable? Required?
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Old 08-07-17, 09:49 PM   #18
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San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

https://www.yahoo.com/news/san-franc...225021750.html

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- These days, the price of a San Francisco home can easily top a million dollars. But one savvy investor has bought up a whole street in the city's most exclusive neighborhood for a mere $90,000.

Trouble is, some of the extremely wealthy residents of Presidio Terrace were not aware their street was up for sale and are not pleased it has been sold.
Presidio Terrace is an oval shaped street sealed off by a gate from the tony Presidio Heights neighborhood. Lined with towering palm trees and multimillion dollar mansions, the street has been home, over the years, to famous residents including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Thanks to a city auction stemming from an unpaid tax bill, Bay Area real estate investor Michael Cheng, and his wife Tina Lam, bought the street and now own the sidewalks, the street itself and other areas of "common ground" in the private development that, the San Francisco Chronicle report ed, has been managed by the homeowners association since at least 1905.

Cheng says reaction to the sale has been less than neighborly. "I thought they would reach out to us and invite us in as new neighbors," Cheng told The Associated Press. "This has certainly blown up a lot more than we expected."

It turns out the homeowners association for Presidio Terrace failed to pay a $14-a-year property tax, something that owners of all 181 private streets in San Francisco must do, the Chronicle reported. So the city's tax office put the property up for sale at the cost of $994 in an online auction to regain unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest. The couple eventually won the street with a $90,100 bid in an April 2015 auction.

Scott Emblidge, the attorney for the Presidio Homeowners Association, said in a letter to the city that the owners failed to pay because the tax bill was mistakenly being sent to the address of an accountant who hadn't worked for the homeowners association since the 1980s, the Chronicle reported.
Emblidge said the residents didn't know their street was put on the auction block, let alone sold, until May when a title search company hired by Cheng and Lam reached out to ask if any residents had interest in buying back the property. That was one of several options Cheng and Lam have considered for making the investment pay off.

Another option is to charge residents to park on their street — and rent out the 120 parking spaces that line the grand circular road.
"As legal owners of this property, we have a lot of options," Cheng said, adding that nothing has been decided.
The matter could be headed for court.

Last month, the homeowners petitioned the Board of Supervisors for a hearing to rescind the tax sale. The board has scheduled a hearing for October. The homeowners association has also sued the couple and the city, seeking to block Cheng and Lam from selling the street to anyone while the city appeal is pending.



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Old 08-07-17, 10:02 PM   #19
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

Merging threads and moving to "Other" as this is barely political
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Old 08-07-17, 10:07 PM   #20
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

Two words: RV parking!

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Old 08-07-17, 10:38 PM   #21
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

What are the laws regarding turning that street into a toll road? $2 every time a resident came or went would add up pretty quickly.
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Old 08-07-17, 10:52 PM   #22
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

I'd rather own Lombard Street.
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Old 08-08-17, 02:45 AM   #23
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

Absolutely absurd and a sad, sad situation.

Mind you, I have no love lost for Feinstein and the other rich liberals that live on that street. But, I think they should use some of their money to hire a good lawyer to tell Mr. Cheung to stick it where the sun don't shine. And others of his ilk, for they are pond scum worse that lawyers, politicians, and tax collectors.

What... If you're rich and fail to pay $14 / year taxes, you suddenly get to lose your privacy to some asshole "real-estate" capitalists? Not right, not right...
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Old 08-08-17, 07:56 AM   #24
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

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I'd rather own Lombard Street.
I'd rather own Park Place or Boardwalk, you can make tons of money!
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Old 08-08-17, 08:11 AM   #25
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Re: San Francisco street sells for $90K. Neighbors aren't happy

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I'd rather own Park Place or Boardwalk, you can make tons of money!
You can only make tons of money if you place a hotel on the property. I know a certain President who will give you a "beautiful" deal! Trust him.
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