By: Richard Wamsat
August 14, 2017
How much would you pay for 3.0955 acres of residential land in San Francisco? For San Jose couple Tina Lam and Michael Cheng the winning bid was $90,100. The property a circular street in the exclusive gated Presidio Terrace neighborhood includes the street itself, all of the sidewalks, palm trees, and garden islands and is surrounded by 35 mega-mansions with sales prices exceeding 10 Million dollars.
The wealthy home owners of Presidio Terrace are not happy about the sale. According to The San Fransisco Chronicle they want the Board of Supervisors to negate the sale that happened unbeknownst to them two years ago due to 30 years of back property taxes not being paid. The amount including interest and penalties was $994 and The Presidio Owner's Association claims that they were not aware of the outstanding taxes. The tax bill was being sent to an unused address for an accountant that retired in the 1980s.
Unwinding the sale might not be so easy. "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," Amanda Fried a spokesperson for the Treasurer-Tax Collector's office told the Chronicle.
In July the Home Owner's Association filled a Lis Pendens to stop the couple from selling the property to another party, a move that the association fears would further complicate their chances of unwinding the sale.
What would you do if you owned a street? Some suggestions have been to charge for parking. Lam & Cheng told The Mercury News that they would love to build a home there if space and zoning would allow it so they could move there. But they are still trying to figure out what the land use opportunities are. Others have suggested that they sell the land back to the HOA, a strategy they had not even independently considered.
Many HOA's have private streets and common areas including my own neighborhood. It might be a good idea to inquire if the taxes and billing address are up to date. Or you might wake up one day and find out that someone bought up the street out from under you. While you are at it, it might be a good idea to check and see if County Tax Collector has your proper mailing address. Often times you are paying your taxes through your mortgage company and if you moved and did not update your address with the County you might not be notified if the mortgage company "forgets" to forward your tax payment.
Orange County Treasurer Tax Collector Change of address form can be downloaded from their website: www.ttc.ocgov.com