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 Post subject: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:30 pm 
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http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/mati ... 738236.php

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Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

By Matier & RossAugust 7, 2017 Updated: August 7, 2017 12:23pm

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Tina Lam and Michael Cheng have bought Presidio Terrace, a private street lined with expensive homes. Residents apparently had no idea the common spaces were up for sale.

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.”


San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Matier can be seen on the KPIX-TV morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815, or email matierandross@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @matierandross



Boo-effin-hoo you Presidio Terracers,
You should have paid your property taxes on time.

Now pay up.

Were I Ms. Lam and Mr. Cheng I would install a tollbooth at that guardshack at the entrance of the subdivision and charge each auto coming and going a $20 toll to drive on the road. :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:13 am 
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chijohnaok wrote:
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Rich-SF-residents-get-a-shock-Someone-bought-11738236.php



Boo-effin-hoo you Presidio Terracers,
You should have paid your property taxes on time.

Now pay up.

Were I Ms. Lam and Mr. Cheng I would install a tollbooth at that guardshack at the entrance of the subdivision and charge each auto coming and going a $20 toll to drive on the road. :twisted:




:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:12 pm 
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Would it not be the city tax office´s duty to find a valid address to mail the property tax bills to?

Hereabouts, the Finanzamt is quite likely to track you and your accounts down and take whatever they think you owe, both quickly and in advance, thank you very much.

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:38 pm 
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Scharfschütze wrote:
Would it not be the city tax office´s duty to find a valid address to mail the property tax bills to?

Hereabouts, the Finanzamt is quite likely to track you and your accounts down and take whatever they think you owe, both quickly and in advance, thank you very much.


Tax bills are normally sent to the property address (like for a home or a business), unless the owner provides some other address for delivery. In this case the property was a street...no house or physical point of delivery (with a mailbox). From the article it appears that the given address of record was that accountant. When said accountant stopped handling the business for the owners, the new accountant or their representative should have provided notice to the tax collector's office (and it's entirely possible they did, but some clerk in the tax collectors office might have fucked it up).

I used to help process home foreclosures in California. The party initiating foreclosures was obligated to send notice to the property address of record, the registered owner, any lien holders (if applicable), anyone who had recorded a request for notice. They also had to post a notice on the front door of the property, and publish a copy of that notice in a local newspaper. (Those were the requirements if you were a business or private party conducting the foreclosure). The requirements for the government to do the same are a bit less stringent.

I would presume the tax collectors office did what they were required to do by law.

If notices were mailed to that accountant, he probably forwarded them to the new guy the first year or to but eventually just ignored them. He wasn't being paid by them anymore, and the new accountant might have dropped the ball...or they switched accountants too many times and it got lost in the shuffle of people.

The annual tax bill was $14/year. It's likely not cost effective for the tax collectors office to conduct an investigation for such a small amount, yet the bill must be paid nonetheless, so they go through the legal requirements.

Here is a personal anectode that I can share which is similar to the above incident.
My parents used to own an apartment building in Chicago. They owned and managed it for close to 25 years. The address of record for the tax bills was my parents home. Every year the tax bill was mailed there and my parents would pay the tax bill. Eventually my parents sold the building since my dad was getting older and it was too much for him to run on his own. When the property was sold, the tax collectors office should have been provided notice of the new owner's address (but for some odd reason, they either didn't receive notice or they failed to update their records). So every year the tax collector kept sending the tax bill to my parents address (and this was no small tax amount either, IIRC, the annual tax bill was around $50,000/yr). The first year this happened, my dad called the tax collectors office, told them that he no longer owned the property and gave them the name of the new owner. He also marked the envelope 'return to sender' and had the post office return it to the tax collectors office). The second year, the same thing happened again. My dad called them every year (3-4 years in a row) and told them the same thing, but they never updated their records and continued mailing the bill to my parents. My dad finally got sick of it and stopped calling, he would simply send the notice back through the mail marked 'return to sender'. The Cook County Tax Collector's office is probably no different than the tax collector in that news article.

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:26 pm 
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chijohnaok wrote:
Here is a personal anectode that I can share which is similar to the above incident.
My parents used to own an apartment building in Chicago. They owned and managed it for close to 25 years. The address of record for the tax bills was my parents home. Every year the tax bill was mailed there and my parents would pay the tax bill. Eventually my parents sold the building since my dad was getting older and it was too much for him to run on his own. When the property was sold, the tax collectors office should have been provided notice of the new owner's address (but for some odd reason, they either didn't receive notice or they failed to update their records). So every year the tax collector kept sending the tax bill to my parents address (and this was no small tax amount either, IIRC, the annual tax bill was around $50,000/yr). The first year this happened, my dad called the tax collectors office, told them that he no longer owned the property and gave them the name of the new owner. He also marked the envelope 'return to sender' and had the post office return it to the tax collectors office). The second year, the same thing happened again. My dad called them every year (3-4 years in a row) and told them the same thing, but they never updated their records and continued mailing the bill to my parents. My dad finally got sick of it and stopped calling, he would simply send the notice back through the mail marked 'return to sender'. The Cook County Tax Collector's office is probably no different than the tax collector in that news article.


Well no surprise Chicago is broke given those practices at the tax office! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:24 pm 
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Scharfschütze wrote:
chijohnaok wrote:
Here is a personal anectode that I can share which is similar to the above incident.
My parents used to own an apartment building in Chicago. They owned and managed it for close to 25 years. The address of record for the tax bills was my parents home. Every year the tax bill was mailed there and my parents would pay the tax bill. Eventually my parents sold the building since my dad was getting older and it was too much for him to run on his own. When the property was sold, the tax collectors office should have been provided notice of the new owner's address (but for some odd reason, they either didn't receive notice or they failed to update their records). So every year the tax collector kept sending the tax bill to my parents address (and this was no small tax amount either, IIRC, the annual tax bill was around $50,000/yr). The first year this happened, my dad called the tax collectors office, told them that he no longer owned the property and gave them the name of the new owner. He also marked the envelope 'return to sender' and had the post office return it to the tax collectors office). The second year, the same thing happened again. My dad called them every year (3-4 years in a row) and told them the same thing, but they never updated their records and continued mailing the bill to my parents. My dad finally got sick of it and stopped calling, he would simply send the notice back through the mail marked 'return to sender'. The Cook County Tax Collector's office is probably no different than the tax collector in that news article.


Well no surprise Chicago is broke given those practices at the tax office! :lol:


Chicago is broke not just due to incompetence.

Image

Another anecdote of when I was a kid growing up in Chicago during the 1970's:
The City of Chicago has a fleet of garbage trucks. They pick up garbage from residential homes and from multi-unit properties with up to a maximum of 4 units.

Here is a picture of a City of Chicago garbage truck:

Image

The city used to run these trucks with 4-5 man crews. You'd have 3 guys sitting inside the truck cab and 2 hanging along the sides at the rear.
Notice that I circled a step on which a man would stand and I have an arrow pointed at the handhold he would hold onto while the truck was in motion.
The truck would roll slowly down the alley way as the 3 or 4 guys were supposed to be emptying trash cans (which back then were steel 55 gallon oil drums).
They told us that by having 3-4 guys doing that they could do the job faster.

Meanwhile, you also have a second garbage collection system for commercial properties and those multi-unit properties with 5 or more units.
They would drive around in similar looking garbage trucks (painted a color other than blue.
These trucks would have either 1 or 2 man crews. The truck would drive up to the pickup, the driver would get out of the truck, leaving it idle in park, empty the trash can, then get back in the truck and drive to the next stop.

People would always ask how the commercial guys managed with 1-2 man crews while the city crews had 4-5 people.
The commercial guys had to run their business profitably, while the City did not have to worry about things like being profitable.

Here is the dirty little secret: when it came around time for elections, all these "extra" people were a great way to to canvas the neighborhoods handing out "Vote for Richard J. Daley and the Democratic Party" handbills. ;-)
{Yes, they technically did this on their own time, but it was an expectation for getting a job with the City).
The Chicago Democratic Party had an army of thousands of municipal workers that they would use when it came time to "get out the vote" (for the Democratic Party).

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:35 pm 
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Chi -


I suggest dumping Photobucket.

For free image hosting, without having to register, fill out a bunch of extra bullshit, or pay up, try these:


https://postimages.org/

http://tinypic.com/index.php




I prefer Postimage. Tinypic has been occasionally flaky in recent months, but that may just be due to my browser's script blocker fucking with it.

You just choose & upload. They may ask you to do one of those 'confirm you are human' things, but it's better than giving your email and being subjected to all kinds of annoyances. Such as getting your external pic links to work. And those tend to keep my in-use images for awhile.

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 Post subject: Re: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their stre
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:49 pm 
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NefariousKoel wrote:
Chi -


I suggest dumping Photobucket.

For free image hosting, without having to register, fill out a bunch of extra bullshit, or pay up, try these:


https://postimages.org/

http://tinypic.com/index.php




I prefer Postimage. Tinypic has been occasionally flaky in recent months, but that may just be due to my browser's script blocker fucking with it.

You just choose & upload. They may ask you to do one of those 'confirm you are human' things, but it's better than giving your email and being subjected to all kinds of annoyances. Such as getting your external pic links to work. And those tend to keep my in-use images for awhile.


Thanks

I'll give it a try.
I first attempted to post the photo using imgur but that didn't work. (It works great in DISCORD by just posting the imgur url link but does not seem to work here).

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