Dateline: San Francisco, CA – In what can only be described as an unprecedented level of homeowner association incompetence at the administrative level we have the case of the Presidio Homeowners Association located in the exclusive Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, CA.
The upscale HOA, a gated community located smack-dab in the middle of one of the most expensive cities on earth (which has apparently existed since before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) has been home to some of The City’s most illustrious residents over the years. Political luminaries like Senator Diane Feinstein, House democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and none other than the late Mayor Joseph Alioto have at one time or another called the gated enclave home.
In spite of the mighty brain trust which has shepherded this exclusive HOA over the years it appears that someone forgot to show proper patronage to the San Francisco County Tax Assessor’s Office starting back in the 1980s…and as every commoner knows, the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes!
Fast-forward from the 1980s, when the HOA parted ways with a former accountant, to 2015, when the local tax man finally decided enough was enough. At that time the county found itself with an unpaid property tax bill of $994 for the private street that is located within the community. After repeated attempts to collect the $14 a year in property taxes went unrewarded for more than 30 years, the county decided to auction off the property.
Enter real estate investors Tina Lam and Michael Cheng who purchased the property sight unseen after a successful online auction bid of $90,100! Our heroes are now looking for a way to cash in on their investment, possibly by installing parking meters along the 120 curbside parking spaces that border the street so that residents and visitors can pay tribute to Lam and Cheng; rewarding their astute investment skills every time they park their car along the street. In a recent interview Cheng was quoted as saying, “We could charge a reasonable rent on it…”
A recent viewing of the street using the satellite image from Google Earth showed no less than 57 cars parked on the street one day in November of 2016. If we assume an average of 50 were to be parked on the street 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and parking meter rates that range from 50 cents to more than $6 an hour throughout the City, we can see that Lam and Cheng stand to make a tidy sum from their $90K investment. At a rate of $1 per hour and 50 cars parked on the street each day throughout the year the couple would gross more than $400,000 a year from operating the parking meters.
The question of why 35 of the richest residents of one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. would only be required to pay $14 a year in property taxes for a piece of land that that is no less than 46,000 square feet (in other words over one acre of property) has not been addressed. I suppose the 40 cents per year in property taxes that each of these tax scofflaws were being asked to pay for a 1,400 foot long private street, was simply more than they could bear?
You can’t make this stuff up folks!