Los Angeles: The Platinum Triangle & Beyond

Los Angeles: The Platinum Triangle & Beyond

The fragmentation of the 80 wealthiest Los Angeles neighborhoods has it’s own unique pattern that is primarily influenced by the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. The core area is generally referred to as “West Los Angeles” and extends from the West Hollywood Hills to Castellammare, located adjacent to Malibu on the western city limits of Los Angeles.

Map of West Los Angeles Core Area (West Hollywood Hills to Castellammare)

View Larger Map of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods in West Los Angeles

Familiar to many Americans entranced by celebrity, West Los Angeles is centered on the so-called “Platinum Triangle” (Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Holmby Hills). The small neighborhood of Holmby Hills was ranked number one in the nation and may have the world’s largest collection of nouveau riche uber-mansions this side of Saudi Arabia. Two of its more infamous monuments to excess are the Playboy mansion and the 60,000 square foot Spelling mansion that reportedly recently sold for $130 million. The West Los Angeles core dominates the metro area’s geography of wealth with 42.1% of all Higley 1000 households in greater Los Angeles and 53.3% of all households if you include the five adjacent neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley.

Orange County accounts for an additional 22.2% of the Higley 1000 neighborhood households found in the metro area. The wealth of Orange County is particularly fragmented although one could say it is centered on Newport Beach as this town has almost 40% of the Higley 1000 households in the county. The larger “satellites” of Newport are Laguna Beach, Coto de Caza, the Tustin Foothills, and Laguna Hills.

There are no Higley 1000 neighborhoods found in the “Inland Empire” counties of Riverside and San Bernardino and only two neighborhoods found in Ventura County (Bell Canyon & North Ranch). One may be surprised that the Palm Springs area has no representation in the Higley 1000, however the statistical answer lies in the large number of retirees and second homes found in the area. This phenomenon is not unusual as the Hamptons are also absent from the Higley 1000.

Racial Patterns in Los Angeles’ Wealthiest Neighborhoods

As is true across the country, the wealthiest neighborhoods of Los Angeles are not representative of the racial make up of the metro area. It is particularly striking that area’s huge Latino population is so poorly represented in the 80 Higley 1000  Los Angeles neighborhoods. In 2000 Latinos made up 28.6% of the households in the metro area, but a mere 2.7% of the households in the Los Angeles Higley 1000 neighborhoods. Once one takes into to account live-in servants that have separately tallied households, this figure is undoubtedly even less than this small percentage.

Summary Table of Los Angeles Racial Statistics: Table 1

Summary Table of Los Angeles Racial Statistics

2000 Census Households % Black % Asian % Latino % White
Los Angeles Metro Area 5,347,101 8.0 9.7 28.6 50.7
Los Angeles County 3,133,774 10.7 11.5 32.3 42.3
Orange County 935,287 1.6 11.7 19.5 64.6
Ventura County 243,234 1.9 4.5 22.2 69.1
Los Angeles City 1,275,358 12.6 10.3 32.9 40.9
Los Angeles Higley 1000 65,727 0.9 6.6 2.7 88.0
All Higley 1000 Places 674,328 1.0 4.8 2.2 91.0

In 2000, Asian-Americans made up 9.7% of Los Angeles’ households and 6.6% of the households in the Higley 1000 neighborhoods. The distribution of Asians in the Higley 1000 neighborhoods varies immensely: from a high of 17.2% of households in the Pasadena-San Marino area to a mere 0.8 % in Laguna Beach.

Repeating a pattern seen elsewhere in the country, African-Americans are poorly represented in the Higley 1000 neighborhoods of Los Angeles (0.9%). The Los Angeles area has a noticeably smaller number of Black households than found in other large areas. African-Americans made up only 8% of all households found in the metro area in 2000.

Clusters of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods by Race: Table 2

Clusters of Higley 1000 Neighborhoods by Race

Region # Neigh HH % Black % Asian % Latino % White
West Los Angeles 23 27,684 1.0 4.3 2.1 90.6
San Fernando Valley 5 7,381 1.2 3.5 2.1 91.1
Pasadena-San Marino 6 4,607 0.9 17.2 2.4 64.8
Palos Verdes Peninsula 5 3,288 1.5 16.4 2.9 78.0
Malibu 4 2,536 0.7 2.8 3.5 91.9
Manhattan Beach 1 2,065 0.3 3.2 5.3 90.3
Hancock Park-Windsor Square 4 957 1.4 16.0 4.2 76.8
Hidden Hills 2 949 0.9 7.8 2.0 88.3
Claremont 1 415 4.8 16.1 7.7 69.4
Los Angeles County 51 49,882 1.1 6.5 2.5 88.0
Newport Beach 8 5,738 0.2 4.0 2.5 90.7
Coto de Caza 3 1,612 0.8 4.8 2.6 90.3
Tustin Foothills 3 1,497 0.0 11.8 4.7 82.4
Laguna Hills 2 1,302 1.5 13.6 4.1 78.3
Laguna Beach 4 1,268 0.9 0.8 2.3 94.6
Mission Viejo 1 965 0.9 10.4 3.7 85.0
Huntington Beach 1 857 0.0 8.3 4.1 87.6
Yorba Linda 2 615 1.3 14.5 6.7 77.6
Turtle Rock 1 278 0.0 19.8 2.9 77.3
Orange (City) 1 259 0.0 19.3 3.1 74.9
Monarch Bay 1 202 0.0 0.0 0.0 95.0
Orange County 27 14,593 0.5 7.1 3.2 87.4
Ventura County 2 1,252 1.2 4.1 1.1 91.1
GRAND TOTAL 80 65,727 0.9 6.6 2.7 88.0

Note that the core area of West Los Angeles has a racial distribution that is almost identical to the pattern found in all Higley 1000 neighborhoods. It is quite amazing that in spite of the high concentrations of Asian and Hispanic households in the LA metro area, there are so few households of those minority groups found in the what is the heart of Los Angeles’ geography of wealth.

Posted in General, Metro Briefs on Dec 6th, 2008, 9:24 am by Stephen Higley   

5 Responses to “Los Angeles: The Platinum Triangle & Beyond”

  1. January 7th, 2009 | 10:07 am

    I would have thought Hancock Park would be amoung the wealthiest areas in Los Angeles.
    San Diego

  2. Alan Gregg Cohen
    March 8th, 2010 | 2:38 am

    You say that in the Palm Springs area there are no neighborhoods that make the wealthiests areas in Los Angeles, which I find hard to believe. The city of Indian Wells reportedly has the most millionaires per capita of any community in the US, and if you take individual neighborhoods such as the Vintage Club, The Reserve and Eldorado Country Club, I’m sure you would find quite the wealth, considering membership fees averaging $500,000 to join these residence clubs. Also Bighorn Golf Club and Silver Eagle Golf Club in neighboring Palm Desert, and Thunderbird and Tamarisk Country Clubs in neighboring Rancho Mirage would fit the same bill. More research should be conducted on these communities as I’ve read this area has some of the highest concentration of wealth in the US.

  3. tom
    May 24th, 2010 | 9:01 pm

    Alan, when collecting census data, the federal government requires that one declare one permanent residence for statistical purposes. So while one might have homes in the Nantucket, Palm Beach, and Aspen, one has to choose one residence to declare. In the Hamptons, for example, the wealthiest seasonal residents will most likely declare places such as Manhattan or Farfield or Westchester Counties as their “home.” Therefore, the per capita income and median household/family incomes in the Hamptons only reflect year-round or more permament residents. This phenomenon is illustrated well on Nantucket. With some of the highest housing prices in Massachusetts (due to summer people), the income levels on the island are not commensurate because the year-round residents are the only ones claiming residency on the island to the federal government. So while many wealthy people may vacation and own homes in Palm Springs, they are not considered residents, and therefore their income is not considered in calculating that area’s income.

  4. demopublican
    September 26th, 2010 | 3:44 pm

    “In 2000 Latinos made up 28.6% of the households in the metro area, but a mere 2.7% of the households in the Los Angeles Higley 1000 neighborhoods”

    Could it be that LA has such a high coupling with residents having family ties back into Mexico? LA, though having a large Hispanic population has a lot of inter-commerce and leisure travel of folks to and from Mexico.

    It maybe worthwhile to check on the money outflows from LA into Mexico–like the Bahamas, Aruba or even Switzerland, I would not be surprised if wealthy Hispanics are shipping wealth across the border for friendlier monetary laws, and you’re seeing that in your data.

    This may as well apply to Asian families too.

  5. Stephen Higley
    September 27th, 2010 | 9:31 am

    You raise an interesting point about repatriating part of one’s income abroad. However, among the highest income households, living in an “appropriate” house that brings access to superior public schools or private schools would seem to be the first step a wealthy household would take. I see no difference in the patterns of the nouveau riche. Where one lives is still a statement to the rest of Americans that “you have arrived.”

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