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. 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. 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. [...] 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. "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. [...] 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." There's a bit of irony in the couple's purchase. [...] a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning the enforcement of racial covenants, homes in Presidio Terrace could be purchased only by whites.
An interesting case in which something that fell through the cracks may cause a bizarre problem.