San Jose real estate investors buy mansion-lined San Francisco street

Rich residents shocked their private street was sold because of a $14 HOA error

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng purchased Presidio Terrace in San Francisco for $90,000 and have considered options to monetize the property.

Over the past two years the residents of the gated street have gone about their business, unaware that the asphalt, sidewalks, manicured islands, plants and palm trees surrounding them were now owned by the couple. A guard is stationed 24 hours at the gate to keep curious people away from entering the neighborhood. Dianne Feinstein, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the late mayor of San Francisco, Joseph Alioto.

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 taxes weren't paid for "many years", the association says, because the city was sending the bills to an address "associated with an accountant who last performed work for the Association in the 1980s".

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. They won the bidding.

"We just got lucky", Mr Cheng told the newspaper.

Most of the homeowners only found out about the sale of their street in the newspaper Monday morning. The couple are considering charging the owners of the multimillion dollar mansions to park their cars on the street. 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.

All thanks to an auction that stemmed from an unpaid tax bill, Chang and his wife Tina were able to purchase the street.

The homeowners association lawsuit alleges that the couple is only using the threat of charging for parking to incentivize them to buy the street back, but Lam claims she and Cheng have no plans to part with the property.

One homeowner who wanted to remain anonymous, 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'.

He said: "I thought they would reach out to us and invite us in as new neighbours". This has certainly blown up a lot more than we expected.

"I'm pretty sure that the law is clear on my ownership, so I am comfortable that we will prevail", she said.

Now Lam and Cheng are thinking about making a profit from their investment by renting the 120 parking spaces on the street.

"I'm very optimistic that the city officials want to see a reasonable end to this, and a reasonable end is to rescind the sale and put things back the way they were", Emblidge said.

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