In August, after decades of failing to pay property taxes on their private cul-de-sac in the hills of San Francisco, residents of Presidio Terrace were rudely awakened to the fact that their street no longer belonged to them. It had been sold at auction, perfectly legally—and the well-heeled homeowners would have to deal with whatever profiteering came of it.
As I noted at the time, there was some deeply satisfying irony here for anyone who has railed against the elitism of San Francisco’s housing market. But as of last week, the universe has returned to its usual order: The Presidio Terrace Association got its street back.
The homeowners’ association had sued the street’s buyers and enlisted a battalion of influencers to appeal to the city to reverse the sale. Among them was Senator Diane Feinstein, who used to live on the street. “In the United States, no one should lose property at the hands of the government without knowing it,” she wrote to the city in October on behalf of her old neighborhood. San Francisco officials caved, and reversed the tax-default sale—the first such reversal by the city in decades, and possibly ever, according to the San Francisco treasurer’s office. After casting his vote in support of the homeowners’ association, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell called the San Jose couple who’d purchased it “speculators … attempting to extort San Francisco residents that I represent into a quick $1 million payday,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.