04 August 2008

The Kings of Carbon Canyon Prepare to Abdicate

Even for Oak Tree Downs, the gated community of custom homes on expansive lots on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills, this was an attention-grabber. The King family, owners of the Century 21 King real estate mini-empire when times were, or appeared to be, so good in the housing market, erected their own dream estate in the Downs. Now, that dream has faded, or will soon.
So, if you have about 5 or 5 1/2 million bucks lying around waiting to be put to use, the dream can be yours. The King home, at a little over 12,000 square feet nestled on about three acres, with all the amenities thereto, is up for sale. The home was completed just a few years ago, but like the bubble in the real estate market, it was evidently just too good to be true.
A few of the amenities: vineyard, fruit orchard, streams, lush gardens, tennis court, putting green, golf cart garage, elevator, game room, card room (after all, poker is no longer a game, it's a sport), gym, bar, reception room, pool and cabaña, 1,200 square foot guest house, THX-certified sound movie theater, the "ESPN Zone" room with three flatscreen televisions side by side to keep up on all of the games, etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum. It would appear to have been all that could be desired in a home.
I imagine the proprietors of this Italian Villa estate thought themselves on top of the world (at least, this little corner of it) when Governor Schwarzenegger was feted at the estate for an election campaign fund raiser when it was brand spanking new.
And, wouldn't you know it, the rumor mill has ground out the story that an interested buyer is none other than Snoop Doggy Dog, former kids' football coach in Chino Hills and ex-resident of "The Country" in Diamond Bar and an exclusive area of north Claremont. Now, who knows if the grapevine is yielding fruit on that one, but one has to wonder what his new neighbors in the Downs would think if Snoop bought the King place . . .

If a home is supposed to reflect what you've achieved (or wish to), then the sale of the King House is undoubtedly an outsized example of the problem we've come to when houses became as much a commodity as a residence; values rose far faster than income; mortgages somehow became available without down payments or income documentation; materialism hit the pinnacle as the preeminent product of achievement; and any regulation of the titanic level of greed that enveloped the housing and mortgage industries in the last several years (why hadn't we learned from the late 1980s or, for that matter, the 1920s?) is seen as nothing less than intefering in that bizarre netherworld called the "free market."
I know, I know, I'm on a soapbox, but I'll just say one more thing: when 200,000 wage earners are worth more than 200,000,000 people in this country, there's something terribly wrong and out of all proportion and balance. The Kings weren't among the 200,000, but it sure looks like they wanted to be.

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