Real-estate speculators bought the road and sidewalk in a gated wealthy San Francisco enclave


#21

And then he’ll turn around and privatize every other piece of crumbling infrastructure in this country (his attention span permitting, of course).


#22

For a tax bill of about $900? Nope! Not worth the time. Sell the property (for $90,000) and be done with it.


#23

Besides, isn’t there a cure period for tax bill sales in California? There is where I live, and the municipality that is owed back property taxes has to publicize the upcoming sale in a genuine newspaper and everything. I believe the original intent of such measures was to notify the delinquent property owner, postal mail to their agent of record having failed to do the trick, that their land was about to be sold out from underneath them. Of course, now that nobody reads the newspaper anymore (what? you don’t read the property tax sale notices? they’re usually back by the classifieds), I wonder if those rules should be amended and if so, to what?


#24

This is both wonderful and horrible at the same time!

What, in the Bay Area? For a measly trillion they probably need some work.


#25

I admit my viewpoint is likely skewed by my having a mind like a sieve.


#26

Well, that’s the British Billion, which means that describing yourself as a public school kid is a very different kind of humblebrag.


#27

You know, the more I think about this, the more I am struck by the kindness and generosity of the new owners/aspiring property flippers, giving the existing residents right of first refusal and everything. They didn’t even have to do that much. They could have just sold it along to someone like Blackstone Group, which would have charged rents immediately and securitized the leases to boot.


#28

Those property owners all hold the mineral rights too, yes?


#29

#30

There are some lighthouses for sale.


#31

Right? How crazy is it? If I owed the city of Durham even a trivial amount of back taxes, they would jump on me with both feet. But these guys owed San Francisco back taxes, and San Francisco’s just like, “Oh well, what can you do.” Not only do they give up trying to collect, but they liquidate the property they’ve been maintaining for years.


#32

I am kinda confused who the bad guys are here?

Is it the land owners? I doubt any of them were even aware of this arrangement. Or are they bad because they are rich?

Is it the HOA? Granted HOA can suck, but I wonder how easy it is to not know of a $14 tax bill. A lot of them aren’t super well run either, with retirees handling them and overlooking details.

Is it the government? I mean, did the TRY to look up the HOA? I bet you $10 they have a website and could have contacted someone about the 30 some year old bill. If they did this to any other place, say your block, would you be cool with it?

Is it the new owners? I mean, I guess I can’t fault them for wanting to invest - but charging people to use their side walk seems like a dick move. Hell at $90k and the guy is a real estate investor, it doesn’t sound like they are exactly poor

I found it interesting that the whole “The speculators are of Chinese ancestry and the street is one that, until 1948, was locked up with “whites only” restrictive covenants that would have prevented them from living in any of the houses there.” was thrown in there.

Jesus H Christ, that was 69 years ago. An interesting fact, but does it really belong here? Is that supposed to make it feel like some sort of moral victory? I highly doubt anyone from 1948 still lives there. There were tons of bad laws back then. Your neighborhood that you live in may have had methods to keep “them” out. The army integrated that year. Jim Crow was alive and well. I imagine there is a ton of places where one would have been frowned upon moving into 69 years ago. Just seems like an odd jab.


#33

Buying property at auction and then soaking the former owner for more than the taxes owed is a THING. Of course if the HOA had gotten rid of the gate and given the street to the city, this could have been avoided. I’m guessing that the new owners of the street can’t legally block access. The individual property owners almost certainly have an easement.


#34

Nowhere in the article does it say the city tried to contact the HOA directly.


#35

The City only had the address of the Accountant that the HOA used.
I would surmise that is like having a Registered Agent for your Corporation.
That would be the “official” contact for the Corporation (or HOA).

HOA changed Accountants but never updated the address with the City.
As far as the City is concerned, the address they have on file is the one for the HOA.
HOA Accountant for the last 30 years NEVER noticed that they never got a Property Tax Bill.

One would think an ACCOUNTANT would notice that certain “vendors” had stopped sending bills.


#36

They own the sidewalk now, and it will cost them to maintain their investment. Why wouldn’t they charge to use it?

The homeowners have already gotten three decades of free maintenance.


#37

I suppose a maintenance fee is one thing. But something beyond that?

As for the home owners, they seemed unaware of it. They paid the HOA, the HOA should have paid the bills.

Where I used to live nearly every street had sidewalks or a trail in the back. Pretty sure those were privately held and maintained by the HOA, no the city.


#38

Since the accountant’s address was the address of record, the city would have no other door on which to knock. When the accountant stopped working for the HOA, all files would have been returned to them and they should have submitted a new address of record to the city.

It really isn’t the city’s job to handhold the owners of a private street to make sure they properly update their files and so forth.


#39

Oh absolutely! How many of the ever-so-well-heeled residents of that private oval actually dirty their hands with a physical newspaper? Those legal notices still appear in the local paper of record and not automagically to your iPhone screen.

Yep, my Schadenfreude is still undiminished, I’m afraid.


#40

OH give me a break. Who the fuck reads those? Even people who get the paper never read them.

Again, how hard would it have been for the city to just google the HOA for contact info? They must have had bills being returned to sender, right? They didn’t seem to try at all to contact someone to get it paid.