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Chinese react to SF couple buying up entire street for $90K

By Juwai, 10 August 2017
presidio terrace san francisco

A Chinese couple who purchased an entire private street in San Francisco at an auction sale has Chinese netizens all agog.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng merely paid $90,100 for the road, pavements, and landscaped islands of Presidio Terrace – an exclusive private street lined with megamillion-dollar mansions – at a city auction, which happened in April 2015 as a result of an unpaid tax bill.

Since then, the couple have been quietly weighing their options, especially considering the number of financial opportunities possible – including selling back to the residents of the street, or charging them for the 120 parking spaces available on the street.


Chinese social media abuzz, as Chinese opinions online split 50/50

This news has gone viral in China, and Chinese social media netizens are either loving or hating this curious news as it continues to circulate online, drawing both hilarity and criticism alike.

One enterprising Chinese internet user commented, “It’s approximately RMB 600,000 ($90,100) for 120 outdoor parking lots, RMB 5,000 ($750.74) each on average. If you rent each one out for RMB 250 ($37.54) per month, you can get your money back in 2 years.”

An equally enterprising fellow Chinese netizen quipped that Tina Lam and Michael Cheng should take reference from China, and implement a two-way toll system and charge visitors based on time spent within the area.

Tracy Wu, Head of China Engagement at, explains to Chinese media outlet

"This couple was able to purchase this exclusive street for $90,000 at an auction as its homeowners' association failed to pay an inland tax bill. In the US, there are groups of buyers specialised in this type of auctions; the new owners need to shoulder the debt tied to their new property which usually compensates the low acquisition price. But in this case, the only debt was a $994 inland tax. Now if the owners want to buy the street back, they may need to pay several times the price Tina Lam and Michael Cheng paid."

Whether they commend or cast censure at Tina Lam and Michael Cheng, Chinese netizens are still besides themselves upon reading this news, as it’s something that could never happen in China, where strict rules limit citizens from owning land at all.

A Chinese internet user sums it up best with his comment: “It’s worth more than RMB10 million for that many parking lots in China’s Tier-one cities.”



Sources: San Francisco Chronicle: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street; 华裔夫妇9万美元买下街道 打算靠收停车费回本
[Image source: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP on NBC News]