Lowell High
Livin' High on the Bungalow

The Rest of the Carmen Chu Story

Peter Fatooh
Peter Fatooh

In 2006, Carmen Chu and her husband purchased their home, located at 2424 Ulloa St. in San Francisco. The purchase price was $800,000.

By 2008, that property would have had a "factored-up" taxable value of $832,320 (county assessor's can raise each year's assessment from purchase date up to 2% based on the provisions of the old Prop 13 — Jarvis-Gann — which passed statewide back in 1978 and became an amendment to our State constitution).

Assessor Carmen Chu
Assessor Carmen Chu

During the 2009 property tax year, the taxable value of 2424 Ulloa St. was $848,964. While a member of the Board of Supervisors, Chu contacted then-Assessor Phil Ting who was appointed to the position by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. Without filing an appeal of her property taxes, she obtained a reduction to her 2009 taxable value when Ting, in collusion with his appointed Chief Appraiser, Matthew Thomas, unilaterally lowered the 2009 value of Chu's home to $770,000. By performing the latter, Chu was then entitled to a refund of her property taxes of approximately $1,000.00. This process was repeated again in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Chu, Ting and Thomas.  2010:  from $825,000 to $770,000;  2011:  from $853,326 to $720,000;  2012:  from $870,390 to $710,000. In February, 2013, Chu was appointed Assessor by the late Mayor, Ed Lee. The 2013-14 property tax role was prepared prior to Chu taking office, but, again, her Ulloa St. home was lowered by Ting, et al from $887,796 to $750,000. Think of it in practical terms: After owning their home for 7 years (2006-2013) the Assessor and Mr. and Ms. Chu were claiming that this very nice Parkside district home of 3 bedrooms and one bath was worth $50,000 LESS than when they purchased it in April of 2006!

quote marks

All of these reductions in value for her personal benefit were arranged while appeals for reductions before the Assessment Appeals Board from regular mom and pop homeowners in the Sunset, Richmond, Mission, Excelsior districts, et al, were vehemently opposed by the Assessor’s Office.”

While the Assessor, herself, Chu then lowered it even again. She unilaterally lowered it from $891,826 to $850,000! No appeal ever filed at the Assessment Appeals Board for any of the 6 years of lowered value. Chu made no effort to publicly notice her own reductions.

The 2014 reduction is even more egregious. As Assessor, Chu used employees in her office to "determine" the reduced value of her home. Clearly a conflict of interest and a misuse of city employees. Chu even promoted the person who "appraised" her home for the 2014 tax year.

Not a single public file exists to review the Assessor's office's records of these reductions. When reductions in value are made for multiple years on a property, Assessors document their value with interior photos of the subject property. No interior photos for 2424 Ulloa St.

All of these reductions in value for her personal benefit were arranged while appeals for reductions before the Assessment Appeals Board from regular mom and pop homeowners in the Sunset, Richmond, Mission, Excelsior districts, et al, were vehemently opposed by the Assessor’s Office.

That's the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say!

Peter Fatooh was a member of the SF Assessment Appeals Board for 27 years and is currently President of SF Property Tax Appeals.

February 2021


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