Inequality and Invisibility
Kate Allen reports at The Financial Times
There is nothing remarkable about 23726 Long Valley Road — except that it does not appear to exist.
Estate agents’ advertisements show that the high-end Californian home — six bedrooms, pizza oven, pool — is situated in a gated community on the edge of Los Angeles. Yet prospective buyers searching online to check out the neighbourhood are wasting their time — none of the area’s 648 homes appear on Google Street View.
All that online maps show of the area are street routes and names — what could perhaps be an outline plan for a future housing development. But anyone looking for a kerbside view of the property will find no evidence of it.
The community’s name gives a clue why: it is called Hidden Hills. What the area’s occupants — who reportedly include Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez — value above all is privacy. That includes banning Google’s photography vehicles from entering (and declining to talk to the FT; a spokeswoman for the area’s management company said it had a policy of not giving interviews to the press).
Academics have long used the names “hidden communities” or “invisible communities” to denote areas with high concentrations of deprivation and social marginalisation. Yet some of the world’s most privileged people are choosing to hide from the public eye to protect their homes from burglars and other forms of unwelcome attention.