1. News
August 8, 2017

A new type of housing crisis: why has this couple bought a road in San Francisco?

It’s safe to say that San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the US.

A recent report revealed that the median house price of property in the city has reached around $1.5m, meaning renting, buying, or investing in property in the Bay Area is pretty pricey.

However, one couple has managed to get around this by deciding to invest in a different type of property. Instead of buying a house, they have bought a private street in one of San Francisco’s most exclusive and expensive areas.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng purchased Presidio Terrace, a road lined with multi-million dollar mansions, for $90,000 at a city-run auction.

The road was up for sale after the homeowners association failed to pay a yearly tax bill of $14 for 30 years. The city’s tax collector placed the property into default before putting it up for auction.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, previous residents on the street include the House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

The current residents on the road are not happy with the news after it was revealed Lam and Cheng are looking to make some money off their investment. For instance, they are considering charging for the 120 parking spaces on the street that they control.

Cheng said:

“We could charge a reasonable rent on it.”

One homeowner told the Chronicle:

“I was shocked to learn this could happen, and am deeply troubled that anyone would choose to take advantage of the situation and buy our street and sidewalks.”

The residents have teamed up to sue the city and the couple, which the city is appealing at the moment. One solution could be to buy the road back, though it might be more expensive than the $90,000 Cheng and Lam orginally paid.

What is interesting is that less than 100 years ago, Taiwan-born Cheng and Hong Kong-born Lam wouldn’t have been able to purchase Presidio Terrace or any of the properties on the road.

This was because the homes were only allowed to be bought by white people, until a US Supreme Court ruling in 1948 banned the enforcement of racial covenants.

Lam, an engineer in Silicon Valley, said he fell in love with San Francisco the first time he visited it.

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