The Kingdom of Beverly Hills

Posted: October 4, 2012 in The Road to Skid Row

The Kingdom of Beverly Hills is a small principality within the greater metropolitan area known as Los Angeles. Like Monaco and Andorra, it is full of rich assholes and is largely independent.

Beverly Hills, California, has a (surprisingly) lot in common Beverly Hills, Missouri, in addition to the obvious. For starters, both cities are dominated by one race: white in CA, black in MI. Both cities have median household incomes out of whack with the state average: in CA they earn about $20k above average ($81k), in MI they earn about $12k below average ($33k). Finally, both cities are home to a significant minority living below the poverty level: 10% in CA, 30% in MI. That’s right, 10% of residents in Beverly Hills, CA live below the poverty level.

The Kingdom of Beverly Hills has absolutely nothing in common with the small Caribbean nation of Haiti, except its fascist police force known as the Beverly Hills Police Department. If you are not white or rich then you are not welcome. Unless you happen to be working in one of the fancy restaurants or hotels that is, in which case you are tolerated.

My Vietnamese friend was caught in the act by the BHPD. He was walking through Beverly Hills when a cruiser pulled up and asked him what he was doing. In fairness to the cops, so few people walk in Los Angeles I can understand why they thought it was illegal. They probably confused the word walking with the word murdering. It’s an easy mistake to make. At any rate, it shows the BHPD do not like strange folks – Asians, Hobos etc. – going through their town.

The Kingdom of Beverly Hills has very little crime, unless you count white-collar crime, in which case it is more dangerous than Honduras and El Salvador combined. Because the judicial system doesn’t count white collar crime, it’s considered safe. Despite this, every house in Beverly Hills has a little sign on display in the front lawn saying how it’s protected by a private army. ADT, Protect America, Frontpoint Security, Alarm Force, First Alert, Protection One, Broadview Security, Monitronics, Pinnacle – these are just some of the companies providing household security systems.

Sound a little paranoid? Unwelcoming? That’s nothing. Up until 2006, Beverly Hills was one of the loudest opponents of the “subway to the sea” – the extension of the LA metro system from Wilshire & Western to Santa Monica – because they didn’t want trains stopping so near. Why, you ask? Do residents enjoy the daily parking lot Wilshire Blvd. turns into? Probably not, but sitting in traffic listening to Taylor Swift is better than having undesirables swamp your town because it’s suddenly easy to get to Beverly Hills.

Residents in Hancock Park and other affluent areas were equally stuck up. “They didn’t want those people coming into Hancock Park, low income people,” said former Star Treker George Takei.  The Royal subjects of Beverly Hills decided they didn’t want a quick, convenient train service connecting their town with all the poor people living in East Los Angeles. An influx like that would make the place so uncouth.

Would a city really block a project which promised economic benefits out of pure snobbery? No, a city wouldn’t. But a kingdom would. Snobbery is currency in kingdoms. I lived in Britain long enough to know that.

  1. tommellors says:

    Thanks Phoebs! Great blog you have – your latest post is fascinating.

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