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The People's Guide: Jackson's Day 5 Doozie

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The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Jackson West has been on board with us as a guest contributor for the past week— he's been blogging in and about San Francisco for nearly five years, most recently gossiping about the technology industry at Valleywag. Why not go out in a blazing ball of flaming glory? Thus we present Jackson's last post in this series, a hard-hitting piece of journalistic inquiry if there ever was one. Let it rip, Jackson.

I get a lot of weird mailers at my building. Living in North Beach, it's apparently assumed that I agree with the Examiner's Ken Garcia, can't wait to read about Donald Fisher's CAMP in Northside and that I might want to recall my district representative, President of the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin. Okay, that last one made me chuckle. Isn't he about to get termed out, and hasn't he publicly expressed his unwillingness to run again for public office? (Which hasn't stopped talk of mayoral ambition.) But one of the "issues" the flier brought up was the rumor about Peskin getting a sweetheart deal on his Telegraph Hill home— one that has been around for years.

It was on my rumor radar early in 2006, even though it was quickly discounted by H. Brown, from whom I first heard the anecdote. I did some digging, and I came up with bupkiss. I could confirm some details, but the crux of the allegations— that Peskin was essentially gifted hundreds of thousands of dollars by local Republicans and that the Department of Building Inspection let him get away with un-permitted renovations— I couldn't nail down. And frankly, given that I run into Peskin regularly and I've heard he can be really mean, I didn't want to press the issue.

But if anyone can make sense of it all, I figured Curbed readers might. So quit slaggin' me in the comments and put on your thinkin' caps, as I shall present the facts without judgment as best as I can:

A woman named Joanne Talley from Presidio Management did indeed sell Harvey and Tsipora Peskin the land and building at 224 Filbert (Lot 046, Block 0085) for approximately $800,000. 226 Filbert may also be involved in the deal. And Talley originally bought the lot from her associate at P.M., William Brady (who, with his family, has donated over six figures to the Republican Party), only twenty days after Brady purchased it from a Dwight Yancey. Yet both paid the same Transfer Tax, and therefore the same price, of approximately $1.5 million.

The earliest assessment I could find for the property was in 1988 for approximately $550,000. In 1997 it was valued at about $670,000. By 2000 it was assessed at the $1.5 million price that it was sold at. Mysteriously, on the same day it changed hands between Yancey and Brady, it was re-assessed at exactly $1 million. In December of 2002, it was reassessed again to $800k. This was on the same day a loan for $430,000 was taken out on the property by Harvey and Tsipora Peskin from Washington Mutual. In August of 2003 another loan, this time as a 50/50 TIC between Aaron Peskin, his wife Nancy Shanahan, and their parents was taken out for about $320,000. Since then, Peskin's parents (or, at least, a trust in their name) has deeded at least another 25% of the interest in the property to the younger Peskin and wife Shanahan.

The building, originally built in 1863 and thoroughly remodeled in 1977, is on a lot zoned for up to three residences. Now, it's officially a duplex— hence the 50/50 TIC designation. According to the Planning Commission, exterior appurtenances were renovated starting in 1998. Numerous DBI complaints were filed about the building's apparent conversion to single-family living, and the Planning Commission in 2002 issued a preliminary recommendation to force the owners to return it to a duplex. (Search the DBI database by selecting "address lookup" and then entering lot 0085 046— no URLs will resolve for sub-pages). But all DPI complaints were eventually abated after Peskin moved in. The property and improvements are currently listed as a 2 family dwelling again, And after the latest information from the Assessor-Recorder's officeyet more reconveyancing, substitute trusteeing and deeding since 2006, is still assessed at $875,000.

So, yeah, a lot of paperwork— and lord knows, Peskin is good at paperwork. So I imagine it must all check out. Right?