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Beverly Hills eclipsed by Calabasas as home for rich and famous
[LOS ANGELES] After striking oil a half century ago, the fictional Clampett clan left their shack in the Ozarks and moved to Beverly Hills.
"The Beverly Hillbillies" ran for nine years on CBS and cemented the California city as the go-to-place for the wealthy. These days, the Clampetts might pick a different destination.
"Keeping Up With the Kardashians," which begins its 18th season next month on the E! network, has put a spotlight on another part of the Los Angeles metro area: Calabasas.
This year, for the first time, the community of about 24,300 people has eclipsed Beverly Hills in Bloomberg's annual ranking of the richest cities in the US. The average household income in Calabasas is US$194,010, more than twice the national average and about US$4,000 higher than Beverly Hills, which has 34,600 residents.
Located about 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, Calabasas owes some of its success to the usual reasons: good schools, low crime and open space. But the Kardashians' reality TV show has had its own effect, showing that in Calabasas, the rich and famous can live normal lives without having to dodge paparazzi and tour buses every time they leave home.
"You're not going to get tourists walking around Calabasas -- you're going to get the celebrities that live here, going to the gym and going to the supermarket," said Tomer Fridman, a luxury real estate agent who works with the Kardashians. "That's why they live here -- for the privacy."
In recent decades, Calabasas and its even tonier neighbor to the north, Hidden Hills, have been transformed from sleepy suburbs into celebrity capitals.
The Calabasas Country Club cites the "celebrity factor" as a reason to move there. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West live in Hidden Hills, as does the rapper Drake. Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith keep a 150-acre Calabasas compound, while Justin Bieber sold his US$7.2 million Spanish-style retreat in the city to Khloe Kardashian. Actress Katie Holmes just sold a home there for about US$4 million, the Los Angels Times reported this week.
Real estate in Calabasas is relatively cheap compared with Beverly Hills. That's the premium people pay to live in the city, Mr Fridman said. The median home price in Calabasas is US$1.19 million, while it's US$2.7 million in Beverly Hills, according to Zillow. What Westchester is to Manhattan, Calabasas is to Beverly Hills, Mr Fridman said.
"What you pay US$20 million for in Hidden Hills you're going to have to pay US$50 million in Holmby Hills," he said, referring to another neighborhood just west of Beverly Hills that's home to the Playboy Mansion.
The most expensive listing in Calabasas is a US$32 million mansion in the Estates at the Oaks, an exclusive gated community within another gated community.
Although the Kardashians first started taping their show from Hidden Hills, which has about 2,000 residents, the family and some of its members also have lived in Calabasas. The clan called the city home from 2003 to 2005 before moving to a bigger place in Hidden Hills, according to the LA Times. Kylie Jenner, the 22-year-old cosmetics mogul, bought her first house, a US$2.7 million starter pad, in Calabasas in 2015.
Beverly Hills still has more pop culture references, from the TV show "Beverly Hills 90210" to the "Beverly Hills Cop" movie series to the Weezer song "Beverly Hills" -- but Calabasas is catching up. Kanye West has clothing collections with Adidas that include sneakers, track pants and hats branded with with the city's name. Drake has a song called "4PM in Calabasas."
Living so close to the oak-studded hills does have its drawbacks. In 2018, the Woolsey fire prompted a week-long evacuation of the city. Nine homes were destroyed and 41 buildings damaged. Fire season now lasts year-round, according to Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub, with firefighters and sheriff's deputies constantly thinking about brush clearance.
Still, the city's finances are sound. Calabasas and Beverly Hills are both rated Aaa by Moody's Investors Service, its highest credit grade.
Calabasas, which doesn't have a business tax, also has been a magnet for investment. The city is home to the headquarters of the Cheesecake Factory Inc restaurant chain and cruise operator AmaWaterways, whose river excursions along the Danube and Seine cost as much as US$14,000 a person.
Rick Caruso, the billionaire Los Angeles developer, built the Commons, one of his early outdoor malls, in Calabasas, and he said that everything from the jewelry store to the cafe does well.
"It's a big family town," Mr Caruso said. "It's not just a bunch of lonely rich people."