SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Back in 2015 Michael Cheng and Tina Lamm of San Jose purchased the common areas of Presidio Terrace. The street is private and gated, lined by 35 homes, all valued between $5 and $15 million, and their nicely-manicured grounds. It was put up for auction by the city after the homeowners’ association failed to pay taxes for 30 years. It wasn’t because the homeowners couldn’t cobble together the $14 a year, but because the tax bills had been going to an accountant who hadn’t worked for the association since the 1980s. The homeowners learned they no longer owned the property when Cheng and Lamm asked if they would like to buy it back. The homeowners’ association then appealed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to overturn the sale, and their request was approved on a 7-4 vote. The homeowners accused the purchasers of trying to flip their street, while Cheng suggested they should have contacted the city to find out why they hadn’t gotten a tax bill in 30 years.