It’s a tale of David vs. Goliath, nobs vs. common folks, the powerful vs. the wannnabes or the privileged 1% vs. the ambitious Chinese.
The Asian immigrant couple who bought one of the highest priced streets in San Francisco in 2017, is suing the city after their purchase was overturned.
When the neighbors caught wind that real estate broker Tina Lam and Silicon Valley engineer Michael Cheng had bought the street, the residents of Presidio Terrace used their influence to have the Board of Supervisors reverse the sale.
In 2015, city staff followed normal protocol and put the privately owned street up for sale in an online auction after the Presidio Terrace Homeowners Association failed to pay taxes on the street for more than a decade.
Lam and Cheng bought the sidewalks, streets and medians in an online auction for $90,000. They offered to sell the street back to the home owner’s association for $1 million.
To help pay for their legal action, the couple has launched a GoFundMe page, “Presidio Terrace defense fund” to finance the legal action. They set a goal of $50,000.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross report that Lam and Cheng’s attorneys are arguing that the board overstepped its authority.
On the GoFundMe page, the couple infer that their race was a factor in the association’s actions:
“Stunningly, Supervisor Mark Farrell, who initially recommended the sale in 2015 and got the unanimous approval of the Board of Supervisors, changed his mind once he saw who bought the street. Very publicly, he called us “bottom-feeding pirates” and “out-of-town speculators” as apparently we weren’t rich enough or White enough to own this street that he just wanted to dump in an auction at a public tax sale. He even got Senator Dianne Feinstein to help him pressure a few fellow Board members to take back the street for the second time since 1985. He got his way on a split conditional decision 7-4 on November 28, 2017.
“… This fight is not just about the street. This is about defending property rights for everyone who is not super wealthy or doesn’t look a certain way. If the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is allowed to go against black and white state laws to help a favored few in this unprecedented case, all our property rights will then be at risk of being taken at the whims of a few politicians. ”
Ironically, Presidio Terrace has racist roots. An original ad read: “There is only one spot in San Francisco where only Caucasians are permitted to buy or lease real estate or where they may reside. That place is Presidio Terrace.”
The 40 mansions on the gated circular street are super expensive. A four-floor mansion at 26 Presidio Terrace hit the market in 2016 for $14.5 million. And 30 Presidio Terrace, a neighbor in the gated community, last sold for $9.5 million.
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