Tina Lam and Michael Cheng are the proud owners of Presidio Terrace, a privately owned street in San Francisco, and have been since 2015. Yep, you read that right. They own the entire street.
The street belongs to a private subdivision and is lined with mega-million dollar houses, but due to the street going unnoticed in an auction, Lam and Cheng were able to scoop it up and now legally own the street and any common areas such as sidewalks within the cul-de-sac.
The property went up for auction due to the homeowner’s association neglecting to pay a $14 yearly tax bill. They’ve failed to pay it for three decades now, so the city put the property up for sale in an online auction. They were hoping to regain $994 in unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest.
Lam and Cheng vied against others for the property and ultimately purchased the street for a little over $90,000.
This all happened in 2015, but the home owners have only just recently realized that the couple now legally owned their street. As you might imagine, they’re not happy about it.
“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 Presidio Terrace homeowner told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Lam and Cheng apparently just happened upon the listing while looking through various properties that were up for auction.
“In the midst of all [the other properties] was just this odd property in a great location; the parcel number told you generically what it was: part of Pacific Heights, the right location, land in a good neighborhood. We took a chance,” Cheng told Mercury News.
But, since finding out about this, the homeowner’s association for the neighborhood is suing.
— Curbed SF (@CurbedSF) August 7, 2017
Apparently, nobody paid the communal tax bill because no one ever saw it.
A statement from the neighborhood’s lawyer read, “This isn’t about choosing not to pay property taxes; residents of Presidio Terrace pay their individual property taxes each year. Tax bills for the common area were sent to the wrong address and no notice of delinquency (for) the sale was made to any residents of Presidio Terrace. This is purely an oversight that needs to be corrected and we are working with the City to correct this unfortunate situation.”
In the meantime, Lam and Cheng are still deciding what they’d like to do with the property—charge for parking, build a house—unless the HOA wins out, the decision is entirely up to them.