24 Feb Beverly Hills 90210: Recession in Style
The credit crunch and recession are biting everywhere. Even in mega-rich Beverly Hills.
Sometimes you just see news stories that make you want to pull out your violin to play a sad song. And then there are stories that encourage you to learn the world’s smallest violin.
In this case, CNN reported over the weekend that the recession is biting even the stars and the super-rich of Beverly Hills. For example, the city is expecting tax revenues to decline about $24 million over the next 16 months — the largest drop in the city’s history. That’s in fact a microcosm of the problems that are hitting — and will begin to kill — many other cities with the collapse of their tax base as foreclosures and job losses eat away our social fabric.
But some of the reported fallout for the 90210-set is less appalling and rather more humorous. For example, without so many tourists, a Rodeo Drive shoe store reported cutting the price of a pair of shoes from $1,800 to $245. Apparently the penny-punching has gotten so out of hand that $6,000 handbags are being rejected in favor of mere-$3,000 bags, and customers are calling off $250 hair treatments. Oh, the humanity!
And like their poorer neighbors, Beverly Hills residents even have to visit the pawn shop at times. In this case, rather discreetly. The Beverly Loan Company, the “pawn shop to the stars,” is apparently placing loans for, among other things, businesses and hedge fund managers collateralized by diamond collections. I’m sure the single mother pawning her mother’s jewelry to make rent next month will sympathize.
And if you imagine that it’s probably not really so bad to be wealthy even — or especially — in a recession then you would certainly be right. For example, while Los Angeles is generally experiencing a severe drop in property values, NBC’s local affiliate is reporting that Beverly Hills’ values are expected to actually increase, based on tax appraisals. And while the average California public school spends between $4 – 7,000 per student, Beverly Hills will average about $12,000 per student.
So as you try to make the mortgage payment and still put decent food on the table, take a moment to feel for the socialites who have to learn to color their own hair. And while you scramble to come up with enough so your kids can take band class, pause and feel for the Beverly Hills teens who must settle for a new domestic car.
Life is rough all over.
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