California Couple Buys Super Rich, Tax-Delinquent Street Where Pelosi, Feinstein Once Lived

Pelosi and Feinstein at Barack Obama's inauguration
Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein at Barack Obama's inauguration / Getty
• August 7, 2017 2:26 pm


A California couple spent just $90,100 to purchase the land of a mega-wealthy street in San Francisco where House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.) used to live.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng snatched up Presidio Terrace for a bargain after the Presidio Homeowners Association failed to pay a $14-a-year property tax bill for some thirty years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday. The homeowners association's lawyer, Scott Emblidge, told the city last month that the group failed to pay the property taxes because the bill was being mailed to the address used by an accountant who had not worked for the homeowners since the 1980s.

The city's tax office auctioned off the property in 2015 in order to recover the unpaid back taxes, penalties, and interest. Cheng and Lam quickly moved on the land in April of that year.

The street—a block-long, private, and oval-shaped with a round-the-clock guard—is home to what the Chronicle calls "35 megamillion-dollar mansions."

Feinstein lived at Presidio Terrace through 2006, when she and her husband bought a $16.5 million home uptown in order to get a "view." Pelosi and her husband bought a house there when they first moved to San Francisco in 1969.

Cheng and Lam's bargain deal for the wealthy land is being contested, however. The homeowners association wants the the Board of Supervisors to negate the sale and has sued the couple and the city, seeking to block Cheng and Lam from selling the street while the city appeal is pending.

Residents say the city had an obligation in 2015to post a notice in Presidio Terrace informing neighbors about the auction. But Treasurer-Tax Collector Jose Cisneros' office believes the city did what the law requires.

"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," spokeswoman Amanda Fried said. "There is nothing that our office can do" about the sale.

Cheng and Lam, San Jose residents and real estate investors, now own the streets, sidewalks, trees, and all other "common ground" on the private development. They have been biding their time, deciding what to do with their new property.

One option: charge rent on the 120 parking spots they now control. And if residents are not willing to buy, then they could very well open up the spots to those outside Presidio's gated lane.