How this couple bought one of the most expensive streets in SF for $90K

Can’t afford to buy a house on a pricy block? Just buy the street!

That’s what one couple, Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, did when they paid $90,000 for Presidio Terrace, a tony street in San Francisco where houses frequently sell in the $35 million range.

Lam and Cheng bought the lot– which includes all of the common space on the block (the street, the sidewalks — and most valuably — the parking spots)– after the government auctioned it off two years ago. Residents in the area had not paid a $14-a-year tax property bill for three decades, meaning that the neighborhood owed the city $994 in back taxes, forcing the sale.

The residents attorney told the San Francisco Chronicle that the reason this error occured is that the bill was being sent to an accountant who no longer works for Presidio Terrace.

The homeowners are petitioning to rescind the sale, though the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office is not exactly sympathetic to their problem. “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,” a spokesperson told the Chronicle.

As for Lam and Cheng, they are considering making money from their purchase by renting out the parking spaces on the block, either to people who live in the neighborhood or to those who don’t. But, really, they say, they are just happy to own something in the incredibly pricy city they love.

“I really just wanted to own something in San Francisco because of my affinity for the city,” Lam told the Chronicle.

The best part of this story, though, is that before a 1948 Supreme Court decision, only white people were allowed to buy homes in Presidio Terrace. So it’s kind of lovely that the entire block is now owned by a Taiwanese couple. [SFC]