San Francisco couple ends up owning exclusive Presidio Terrace streets

08 Aug 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
An SF couple now owns a high-end neighborhood

Imagine ending up owning a street filled with million-dollar houses at just $90,000. What would you do with your new-found bargain?

San Francisco's Tina Lam and Michael Cheng are considering their options.

The couple successfully won the auction of Presidio Terrace, a private street in a wealthy SF neighborhood, in April 2015. Now all "common areas" there belong to them.

But residents aren't happy.

In context: An SF couple now owns a high-end neighborhood

08 Aug 2017San Francisco couple ends up owning exclusive Presidio Terrace streets

BackgroundHow was a street auctioned in the first place?

It all started when the homeowners of Presidio Terrace, who have looked after the 181 private streets since 1905, failed to pay their $14 annual property tax.

The tax office decided to put up the property for sale at $994. Lam and Cheng won the auction.

The area in question includes garden islands, palm trees, 120 parking spots, sidewalks and all other "common ground".

Love World news?
Stay updated with the latest happenings.

The legacy of the exclusive Presidio Terrace

This is the deal of a lifetime for Lam and Cheng. Presidio Terrace is known for its exclusive residents; past homeowners have included Senator Dianne Feinstein and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Home prices in SF have soared recently: the current median home value is $1.2mn.
Upset residents who claim ignorance move court

ReaxUpset residents who claim ignorance move court

According to the Presidio Homeowners Association, tax bills were being sent to an accountant who hadn't worked for them since the 1980s.

But city spokeswoman Amanda Fried says they should have known better: "99% of SF property owners pay their taxes on time, and keep their mailing address up to date."

The Board of Supervisors will hear the case in October.

ConclusionMeanwhile, the lucky couple explores monetization of newly-acquired property

Most residents were caught unawares when Lam and Cheng sent a title search company to ask residents if anyone was interested in buying back the property.

Another option the couple is considering is renting out the parking lots.

Whatever they decide will have to wait till the October hearing; Lam and Cheng have been sued by the Presidio Homeowners Association.