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Presidio Terrace: South Bay couple sues to win back street

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Jilted investors trying to crowdfund legal fees

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

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, the South Bay couple who bought the privately owned Presidio Terrace street for a mere $90,100 in 2015 and then saw the legal sale overturned by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, are now suing the city in Superior Court to undo that decision.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross report that Lam and Cheng’s attorneys are arguing that the board overstepped its authority. The suit comes as no surprise, since Cheng telegraphed his intentions to sue by taking the unusual step of opening a GoFundMe page to finance the action.

According to Cheng’s “Presidio Terrace defense fund” campaign, he and Lam feel slighted and singled out by San Francisco lawmakers, particularly Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes Presidio Terrace:

Rather than follow the law as clearly stated by the San Francisco Treasurer-Tax Collector, the Board of Supervisors chose to help the ultra-rich neighbors around Presidio Terrace by trying to steal our street and giving it back to them at no cost.

[Supervisor Mark Farrell] called us “bottom-feeding pirates” and “out-of-town speculators,” as apparently we weren’t rich enough or white enough to own this street that he just wanted to dump in an auction at a public tax sale. He even got Senator Dianne Feinstein to help him pressure a few fellow Board members.

Jess Montejano, an aide to Supe. Farrell, tells Curbed SF the supervisor stands by any comment he made about the case and that Cheng’s suit “doesn’t have any merit.”

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

Supervisor Katy Tang, who also voted in favor of restoring the street to Presidio Terrace’s homeowner’s association, told Curbed SF she felt the city didn’t properly notify the original owners.

“I believe people feel uncomfortable with the decision [...] because wealthy individuals live in this area,” Tang added. “However, our decisions cannot be based on whether we like a certain group of people or not.”

But Cheng still contends that the reversal was a slight against he and Lam, alleging that Farrell “changed his mind once he saw who bought the street.”

The GoFundMe page has raised $1,320 in 11 days. The goal is $50,000.