San Francisco Board of Supervisors rules that if you're rich enough to own a private sidewalk, you don't have to worry about overdue taxes

Presidio Terrace is a private, gated street in San Francisco that has housed the likes of Nancy Pelosi and the UK Consul General; their neighborhood association failed to notify the city of San Francisco that they'd changed contact addresses for tax bills related to their private street and sidewalks, so after years of delinquency, their street, sidewalks, trees, and assorted miscellanea were put up for auction and purchased by out-of-town property speculators for the sum of $90,100.

Now, in a 7-4 ruling the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has held that the Presidio Terrace residents get what no one else in the city gets — the chance to void a tax-auction and get a do-over. The Presidio Terraceites say that they simply made an administrative error and shouldn't have their private streets and sidewalks handed over to speculators.

What they don't say is that they've done this before, having defaulted in 1985, and then having apparently done nothing to stop it happening again.

Until 1948, Presidio Terrace had "whites only" signs, and used restrictive covenants to prevent the sale of houses to people of color. The speculators who snapped up the street are people of color.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen voted against reversing the sale, saying homeowners had defaulted before and should have been on notice.

She agreed that most people did not expect to pay taxes on sidewalk in front of their house but pointed out that most people don't have a private street in front of their house.

"Did the treasurer act unreasonably? I don't think so, and should we give a second bite of the apple to these homeowners when most people don't get that?" she said. "I don't think so."

Rich San Francisco homeowners get sold-off street back
[Janie Har/Washington Post]

(via Super Punch)