Meet perhaps the luckiest — and also the most hated — couple in the world… or at least within the seven-by-seven square miles of San Francisco.
Tina Lam and Michael Cheng managed to score an absolutely insane property deal in one of the nation’s priciest cities, thanks to their savvy exploitation of an under-the-radar legal fluke: They bought an entire gated street, decked with 38 mansions, for (wait for it) just over $90,000. (For scale, that’s approximately the cost of a Soul Cycle and cold-pressed juice habit in the city.)
The couple now owns the roads, sidewalks, and other areas of an impeccable cul-de-sac known as Presidio Terrace — all of which facets were once public. Such big-names as Nancy Pelosi have called the street home.
Homes there cost an average of more than $5 million — but millionaire residents lost the street underneath them when their governing board failed to pay a $14 annual property tax, according to the SF Chronicle. (Again, for scale, that’s about the cost to park your car in downtown San Francisco for an hour to run an errand.)
And, because of a total backlog of $991 in those unpaid taxes over 30 years — bills had erroneously gone to a former accountant, last retained in the 1980s — the couple in question was able to snap up their deal at auction in 2015. Quietly.
Residents only found out the fate of their street at the end of May — and, naturally, they’re not happy about it. They have learned that the couple could charge them “a reasonable rent” for their own parking spaces on their own street, one idea the lucky owner-investors have for monetizing their score.
Residents are trying to nullify the deal — and litigation is underway — but city spokesperson Amanda Fried told the Chronicle such a thing was unlikely, as the sale went through two years ago.
"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,” she said. "There is nothing that our office can do."
The couple lives about 50 miles away in San Jose, and put down their winning bid of $90,100 without even checking out the property in person first. It was a financially sound — if loathed and envied — move.
Photos: Courtesy of Cullen328/Wikimedia (residence), Courtesy of Facebook (couple); Google Maps (map)
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