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Sen. Dianne Feinstein urges lawmakers to bend rules for Presidio Terrace residents

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Is government by and for the rich?

California Couple Buys Street In Exclusive San Francisco Enclave Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As pressing issues continue to wreak havoc across the country, Sen. Dianne Feinstein took time to tackle the local brouhaha in Presidio Terrace, siding with residents of the tony San Francisco enclave.

In a lengthy letter penned to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the former mayor urges them to “take the unprecedented step of overturning a tax-default sale” to a young South Bay couple who legally purchased the sidewalk and street of Presidio Terrace in 2015.

The gated enclave headlines in May after its privately owned street sold at auction because of a $14/year tax bill that went unpaid for three decades.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng purchased the property fair and square, obtaining rights to the neighborhood’s lanes and sidewalks, including over 100 valuable parking spaces.

But that hasn’t stopped Sen. Feinstein, one of Presidio Terrace’s former residents, from trying to bend the rules.

Matier and Ross have the scoop:

The state’s senior senator told the supervisors in a letter mailed Monday that her first reaction to the news that the street had been sold for $90,100 was one of “near disbelief.”

“I would not have guessed bureaucracies still held surprises for me,” the former mayor wrote. “But this one did.”

In the letter, Feinstein said there were “serious principles at stake” in the decision by the treasurer-tax collector to seize and sell the block-long, circular street and its sidewalks after the homeowners association failed to pay the street’s $14-a-year property tax for 30 years. With penalties and interest, the total owed by the residents of the multimillion-dollar homes was $994.

California Couple Buys Street In Exclusive San Francisco Enclave Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As for Presidio Terrace’s homeowners, they claim they weren’t being miscreants, blaming “the treasurer-tax collector for sending tax bills to a former bookkeeper for the association who had retired in the early 1980s, and then sending the tax-sale notice to the same incorrect address.”

Treasurer Jose Cisneros, however, isn’t having any of it.

“I am disappointed the senator feels we acted ignorantly,” Cisneros tells Matier and Ross. “Every year more than 10,000 bills and notices are returned because of an incorrect or out-of-state address, and most of those homeowners still manage to pay their property taxes.”

Are taxes only for the little people? The Board of Supervisors will decide by listening to arguments on November 28 at a supervisors hearing.

Correction: The San Francisco Treasurer has more than 10,000 bills returned per year, not 1,000 as previously noted.