Why Are So Many Celebrities Moving to Piedmont, California?

Stars from Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman to tennis great Brad Gilbert have made Piedmont, California, their home. What’s attracting them to the area?

Here to answer Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s burning question is Debbi DiMaggio, who along with Adam Betta represents the DiMaggio & Betta Group and Highland Partners BHG.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: In your opinion, why are so many celebrities moving to Piedmont, California?

Saturday Night Live star Chloe Fineman | Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Saturday Night Live star Chloe Fineman | Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Debbi DiMaggio: The reason celebrities and others move to Piedmont, just as my own parents did when I was 3 years old, is for the top-rated schools, and the small-town community. Piedmont only has 4,000 homes and approximately 10,000 residents.

It’s a family town where everyone knows one another and the kids all grow up together playing sports, or being part of any variety of activities, clubs and/or music groups. Our son grew up playing soccer with Pete Docter’s son and later played lacrosse with the son of Billie Joe [from the group Green Day].

But what is important to note is that the celebrities are people, and the town doesn’t bother them. Everyone is friendly, but there aren’t scenes or people hovering in front of their homes. They attend games and cheer for their kids just as any other parent.

CS: What distinguishes Piedmont homes from homes in other areas in the United States?

DD: What distinguishes many Piedmont homes from others around the country is their uniqueness and beauty. Most of the homes were built between the early 1900s to the ‘60s, with few newer homes. This is because Piedmont has a strict permit process should a homeowner choose to remodel and improve their home, even their gardens. I do, however, appreciate that practice.

I have noticed when visiting towns without a permit process and design review policy in place you will find neighborhoods that are overbuilt with a range of styles and sizes without any quality control. Piedmont also has a height limit on fences.

CS: What are some celebrity home purchases in Piedmont that caught your attention?

DD: I can’t say that any celebrity purchases have really caught my eye as there are larger and more spectacular homes purchased by non-celebrities like the one we represented at 55 Sea View Avenue.  

CS: What do you think will be the next hot real estate spot for celebrities?

DD: Celebrities like fancy, new, big and showy — not all, but many. LA will always be the hot spot for celebs. Another market I specialize in. Celebrities also like privacy, large properties and flat lots. Piedmont’s homes are older, charming yes, but older as well. One has to invest a significant amount of money into a home to make it their own.

Piedmont has small lots, there are only a handful of lots that are even 1/2 or 1 acre. If a celebrity does want to or need to reside in the Bay Area, you will find them in Alamo and Danville where you can buy a new, large home on a level lot (sans the character and charm of a typical Piedmont home. )

CS: Tell our readers about the Ghirardelli family home. What makes it special?

DD: The Ghirardelli mansion is a beauty, going back to the charm and character about most of the Piedmont homes. The details are really quite exquisite, from the beautiful woodwork to the boxed beamed ceilings and grand staircase to the lovely classic leaded lattice-patterned windows seen throughout the home.

CS: What advice would you give to regular folks who are thinking of moving to Piedmont? What should they keep in mind while they house shop?

DD: No matter your price point, a buyer will most likely or want to update a kitchen, a bathroom, or some aspect of the home. Piedmont homes are older, you are not buying a new home, so it is best to understand what to expect.

CS: Anything to add?

DD: I hadn’t thought I would get married and move back to Piedmont, but I did. Piedmont really is a great place to raise a family. Piedmont is the best of all worlds. We live in a small town, yet we are close to both SFO and the Oakland International Airport, just 20 miles from San Francisco and surrounded by Oakland and its many restaurants, shops, cafes, and diversity. Piedmont is a pretty magical place.

Follow Sheiresa Ngo on Twitter.