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May 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

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What alone time she has is spent shopping--voraciously. Inside her room-size walk-in closet, Glatthorn keeps a cordless phone, aka the "911 Fashion Hotline," called frequently by friends facing clothing crises -- i.e., a black-tie in two hours and nothing to wear!

It's true, families of such wealth (Glatthorn's husband is a shopping-mall developer) could easily hire a nanny to chaperone the children around town, but Glatthorn takes pride in being there for her brood. At times, the commitment to parenting can be overwhelming. "Given the financial means, the multitude of choices, and the peer pressure for overachievement in Rancho Santa Fe, there is an obligation to be involved in as many different activities as you can," says Diana Burdick, 42, a kinesiologist-turned-stay-at-home-mom with three children. As she talks, 5-year-old Christopher steers his motorized toy car around the glassy pool. "There are no slackers here. People are religious about being the best parents they can." Hence, French class for 5-year-olds, equestrian events for preteens, and debutante balls for 16-year-old local girls almost weekly during the spring -- extravaganzas that involve thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours choosing dresses and venue/menu/guest-list planning.

But Burdick vows it's really not a competition. "Women don't brag about what they own or what they've achieved," she says. "There's an assumption that everyone has done well, or they wouldn't be living here." "Done well" may be a bit of an understatement: Lamborghinis and custom designed Bentleys cruise the freshly paved streets. Along the main street, virtually every other storefront is a real estate agency, with listings ranging from $3 to $18 million. "There are a lot of wildly successful business owners with tons of disposable income who live here," says agent Laura Barry. "They don't like to announce it publicly, but many of my clients pay for their homes in cash, up front."


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