Calabasas a quiet celebrity haven, then Justin Bieber moved to town
Drawn by the seclusion and high-performing schools, actors, athletes and other A-listers have flocked to Calabasas and surrounding communities over the years.
The city of 23,000 is built for privacy, far beyond the reach of any celebrity tour bus and unplotted by most star maps.
About 40% of the homes are hidden behind guarded gates, and the priciest are protected behind a second set of gates opened only by car-mounted transponder.
Regular residents and their celebrity neighbors, for the most part, have coexisted in peace — that is, until Justin Bieber came to town last year.
The 19-year-old pop singer purportedly sometimes drives his white Ferrari 458 Italia through his neighborhood at twice the posted speed limit. His loud parties wake his neighbors, and his frequent antics bring swarms of paparazzi and news helicopters to the area.
City leaders find the attention unflattering. Councilwoman Mary Sue Maurer cannot help but wince at the mere mention of Bieber’s name.
“The pop culture celebrities have not helped this city’s reputation,” Maurer said. “The coverage is of young misbehaving celebrities, and it’s a culture that certainly doesn’t represent our city.”
Bieber’s $6.5-million French-style mansion is in the Estates of the Oaks of Calabasas, the inner gated sanctum of another gated community, the Oaks of Calabasas. Residents say Bieber ignores posted speed limits, homeowners association laws, and pretty much all the rules of life in a gated community. Gardeners in the Oaks have come to know Bieber’s car as a white blur, and neighbors say he and a fraternity of twentysomething friends race motorbikes and throw raucous parties.
Bieber “drives his car like a bat out of hell. It wakes the whole neighborhood up,” said Galia Pistotnik, 47, who lives in the Oaks of Calabasas.
Bieber was recently confronted by former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson after the singer’s Ferrari was seen speeding on a road where Johnson’s young daughter was playing in a toy car.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating another incident in which Bieber is alleged to have spit on a neighbor after a profanity-laced exchange outside their homes.
Last May, Bieber got into a tussle with a photographer at a Calabasas shopping center. Bieber’s camp has denied he has done anything wrong and says he is trying to be a good neighbor.
In any case, this is not the image Calabasas officials want to put forward.
“People come for peace, quiet and normalcy in their lives,” Mayor Fred Gaines said. “It’s out of the limelight.”
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