Safest Cities in California – 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2020

California is in the lower half of states in terms of safety when you look at statewide crime rates. The Golden State’s violent crime rate of 4.47 is 21% higher than the national average, and its property crime rate is also higher than the national level.

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Crime rate per 1,000
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Law enforcement per 1,000

However, with a state as large and diverse as California, there’s bound to be a high variance in crime rates and other characteristics between the state’s cities. Sure enough, California’s safest cities performed very well in both major crime categories.

California’s safest city is Imperial, a sun-baked community of around 18K in the Colorado Desert. Perhaps it’s too hot for Imperial’s residents to commit crimes, as the city’s 0.5 per 1,000 violent crime rate and 4.28 per 1,000 property crime rate combine for the lowest total crime rate in the state by a significant margin.

Hillsborough is California’s 2nd safest community. Part of the San Francisco Bay Area, the wealthy town is entirely residential, with commercial zoning. This may contribute to Hillsborough’s low property crime rate of 7.77 per 1,000.

#3 Palos Verdes Estates is an affluent Los Angeles County city famous for being master-planned by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the great American landscape architect. The city logged a remarkable 0.44 per 1,000 violent crime rate, which is the 2nd lowest in the state of California.

Earning the 4th spot is Truckee, a colorfully-named town in Nevada County in the northern part of the state. Truckee excels at churning out world-class skiers and snowboarders, like Stacey Cook and Travis Ganong, as well as at keeping its inhabitants safe: the city recorded a violent crime rate of around 1 offense per 1,000 people in 2018.

Sierra Madre, a Los Angeles County city in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, is California’s 5th safest city. Once named an “All-America City”, Sierra Madre distinguished itself in 2018 with a 0.63 per 1,000 violent crime rate and property crime rate below 10 per 1,000.

California’s Safest Cities

CACityPopulationViolent
crime
Property
crime
Law enforcement
employees
Total crimesCrime rate per 1,000Violent crimes per 1,000Property crimes per 1,000Law enforcement per 1,000
1Imperial1797697720864.780.504.281.11
2Hillsborough1158099036998.550.787.773.11
3Palos Verdes Estates135596104311108.110.447.672.29
4Truckee1660917143361609.631.028.612.17
5Sierra Madre11055795191029.230.638.591.72
6Moraga178661294121065.930.675.260.67
7Soledad2631370101211716.502.663.840.80
8Los Altos3098913284442979.580.429.161.42
9Coronado24491183146233213.560.7312.822.53
10Foster City34993353765341111.751.0010.751.51
11San Ramon76569437868282910.830.5610.271.07
12San Marino13358112033121416.020.8215.202.32
13Avenal12084441181916213.413.649.761.57
14Los Alamitos1162981562016414.100.6913.411.72
15Ripon15878102253023514.800.6314.171.89
16Mill Valley1441891962520514.220.6213.591.73
17Benicia28536343824941614.581.1913.391.72
18Los Gatos30899104595746915.180.3214.851.84
19Scotts Valley11998171912820817.341.4215.922.33
20Paradise26755652793434412.862.4310.431.27
21Reedley258091052894639415.274.0711.201.78
22Laguna Beach23202904439453322.973.8819.094.05
23Clayton1233011461314711.920.0811.841.05
24Simi Valley1272222141491162170513.401.6811.721.27
25Newman11525191341415313.281.6511.631.21
26Lincoln4836435418294539.370.728.640.60
27Piedmont11478211952721618.821.8316.992.35
28Morro Bay10692361351817115.993.3712.631.68
29Murrieta114706921412129150413.110.8012.311.12
30Novato56577977738487015.381.7113.661.48
31Irvine2880521603659310381913.260.5612.701.08
32Glendale2047242023110323331216.180.9915.191.58
33Pacifica39339714023447312.021.8010.220.86
34San Fernando248691023124041416.654.1012.551.61
35Cypress49223587046876215.481.1814.301.38
36King City14228321751720714.552.2512.301.19
37Sunnyvale1556372552541282279617.961.6416.331.81
38Greenfield17680971932629016.405.4910.921.47
39Menlo Park34694436066664918.711.2417.471.90
40Rocklin659695295282100415.220.7914.431.24
41Belmont27325404244246416.981.4615.521.54
42Torrance1469682672702316296920.201.8218.382.15
43Bell Gardens428451176336875017.502.7314.771.59
44Elk Grove1746514142359226277315.882.3713.511.29
45Ukiah16037952844637923.635.9217.712.87
46Sanger25287883624145017.803.4814.321.62
47Seaside34303924454353715.652.6812.971.25
48Redwood City881611771254118143116.232.0114.221.34
49Auburn14094721922526418.735.1113.621.77
50Healdsburg11917202232524320.391.6818.712.10
51Cathedral City550561727177288916.153.1213.021.31
52Marina22511493172936616.262.1814.081.29
53Hermosa Beach19737304776250725.691.5224.173.14
54Arroyo Grande18244242862531016.991.3215.681.37
55Pacific Grove15788233123333521.221.4619.762.09
56Hercules25750303502638014.761.1713.591.01
57Martinez38699735244259715.431.8913.541.09
58Folsom78916851245101133016.851.0815.781.28
59Chowchilla18551422932733518.062.2615.791.46
60Orange1411081602478218263818.691.1317.561.54
61Petaluma6128919788985108617.723.2114.511.39
62Hollister38930984964059415.262.5212.741.03
63Morgan Hill46142527405979217.161.1316.041.28
64Manhattan Beach36038578449790125.001.5823.422.69
65Grover Beach13694282492427720.232.0418.181.75
66Daly City1079282421528124177016.402.2414.161.15
67Chula Vista2743708353611305444616.203.0413.161.11
68Napa801452691241119151018.843.3615.481.48
69Santa Paula30456904584154817.992.9615.041.35
70Fontana2139647093218290392718.353.3115.041.36
71Galt26548964624755821.023.6217.401.77
72La Mesa60442160104996120920.002.6517.361.59
73Atascadero30716994283652717.163.2213.931.17
74Pasadena1434485472928333347524.223.8120.412.32
75Lindsay13542342141824818.312.5115.801.33
76Rohnert Park431292227458596722.425.1517.271.97
77South Pasadena25924325224655421.371.2320.141.77
78Pleasanton849921101445110155518.301.2917.001.29
79Redondo Beach680481711452149162323.852.5121.342.19
80Newport Beach862761242073213219725.461.4424.032.47
81La Habra62769111115597126620.171.7718.401.55
82Coalinga16593732442331719.104.4014.701.39
83San Gabriel406371366916382720.353.3517.001.55
84Palo Alto67560721513137158523.461.0722.392.03
85Livermore916121861696141188220.542.0318.511.54
86Huntington Beach2034284293993349442221.742.1119.631.72
87La Palma15747203342835422.481.2721.211.78
88National City617633061167122147323.854.9518.891.98
89Carlsbad1167392432100162234320.072.0817.991.39
90Livingston14301413082934924.402.8721.542.03
91Dixon20472533682942120.562.5917.981.42
92Lemoore266261883854157321.527.0614.461.54
93McFarland15475612121627317.643.9413.701.03
94Ridgecrest290551715005067123.095.8917.211.72
95San Diego143649553602741623323277622.823.7319.091.62
96Santa Maria1081004971932170242922.474.6017.871.57
97Placentia5232412090462102419.572.2917.281.18
98South Lake Tahoe220601824545663628.838.2520.582.54
99Monrovia37128699147998326.481.8624.622.13
100Los Angeles4029741301261012671301013139332.617.4825.133.23
101Escondido1530735352736209327121.373.5017.871.37
102Burbank1050412292625231285427.172.1824.992.20
103Seal Beach24356396014964026.281.6024.682.01
104South San Francisco679731811444112162523.912.6621.241.65
105Corona1700412633264209352720.741.5519.201.23
106Tustin812431221874139199624.571.5023.071.71
107Santa Ana33540315716390533796123.744.6819.051.59
108Port Hueneme22417614212948221.502.7218.781.29
109Santa Rosa1763258233118246394122.354.6717.681.40
110Vacaville1011462302158157238823.612.2721.341.55
111Bell358571844953667918.945.1313.801.00
112El Monte1164643622242162260422.363.1119.251.39
113Central Marin35033407234676321.781.1420.641.31
114Baldwin Park765412871386101167321.863.7518.111.32
115Gardena604233261306121163227.015.4021.612.00
116Farmersville10806451901423521.754.1617.581.30
117La Verne32656877425782925.392.6622.721.75
118Brentwood64118152131791146922.912.3720.541.42
119Corcoran21487753802645521.183.4917.691.21
120Clovis1117592212438166265923.791.9821.811.49
121Banning314511355313766621.184.2916.881.18
122San Mateo1058392852163148244823.132.6920.441.40
123East Palo Alto299911415674370823.614.7018.911.43
124Azusa50393193112288131526.093.8322.261.75
125Oceanside1774646693836293450525.393.7721.621.65
126Tehachapi12402822762635828.876.6122.252.10
127Placerville11018542782533230.134.9025.232.27
128Beaumont4855920887160107922.224.2817.941.24
129Arcadia5915176142094149625.291.2824.011.59
130El Cajon1044975152269182278426.644.9321.711.74
131Ontario1775426704584381525429.593.7725.822.15
132Fremont2380245024687278518921.802.1119.691.17
133Santa Barbara926304152333199274829.674.4825.192.15
134Long Beach47044532841192211641520632.326.9825.342.47
135Covina48557188111783130526.883.8723.001.71
136Alhambra857181931930122212324.772.2522.521.42
137Exeter10583162791929527.871.5126.361.80
138Chino915352592216153247527.042.8324.211.67
139Claremont36178669306299627.531.8225.711.71
140Inglewood1107266832744235342730.956.1724.782.12
141Monterey Park611601241589106171328.012.0325.981.73
142El Segundo16881627147977645.973.6742.304.68
143Oxnard2117378015055357585627.663.7823.871.69
144San Bruno4362112398462110725.382.8222.561.42
145Hawthorne883726171705134232226.286.9819.291.52
146Anaheim35474311928702597989427.893.3624.531.68
147Paso Robles32228437974784026.061.3324.731.46
148Beverly Hills345571061757215186353.913.0750.846.22
149Mountain View825181572103131226027.391.9025.491.59
150Milpitas79895871934108202125.301.0924.211.35
151Downey1132773672615165298226.323.2423.091.46
152West Covina1078062922513153280526.022.7123.311.42
153Brea4327983129390137631.791.9229.882.08
154Watsonville54513243133093157328.864.4624.401.71
155Madera66098399134694174526.406.0420.361.42
156Kingsburg12089403062034628.623.3125.311.65
157Roseville1377062993252185355125.792.1723.621.34
158Kerman15128593582341727.563.9023.661.52
159Mendota11476861971428324.667.4917.171.22
160Hanford56805274126482153827.084.8222.251.44
161Shafter19986445443458829.422.2027.221.70
162Tracy919881992331136253027.502.1625.341.48
163Brawley265901546574881130.505.7924.711.81
164Fortuna12228463522539832.553.7628.792.04
165Davis69486117169091180726.011.6824.321.31
166Union City76198261165392191425.123.4321.691.21
167West Sacramento54215225141294163730.194.1526.041.73
168Suisun City29859936273372024.113.1121.001.11
169Lompoc4371921895159116926.744.9921.751.35
170Oakdale23504485552960325.662.0423.611.23
171Santa Clara1286822083741222394930.691.6229.071.73
172Newark4827697131875141529.312.0127.301.55
173Garden Grove1746615074040213454726.032.9023.131.22
174San Jose104730544442575315503019728.834.2424.591.48
175Parlier153561113352344629.047.2321.821.50
176Los Banos39651144107166121530.643.6327.011.66
177Fountain Valley5643352149675154827.430.9226.511.33
178Gilroy59033209160998181830.803.5427.261.66
179Burlingame30959589215497931.621.8729.751.74
180Alameda799511842123113230728.862.3026.551.41
181San Pablo3140318097972115936.915.7331.182.29
182Porterville59394209156189177029.803.5226.281.50
183Dinuba244111845974278131.997.5424.461.72
184Fullerton1411323323660189399228.292.3525.931.34
185Lodi66416277170198197829.784.1725.611.48
186Pittsburg734624221679100210128.605.7422.861.36
187Tulare645092511818108206932.073.8928.181.67
188Hayward1628816694770292543933.394.1129.291.79
189Montebello63291218164385186129.403.4425.961.34
190Glendora52727122152379164531.202.3128.881.50
191Citrus Heights886033242478133280231.623.6627.971.50
192Walnut Creek705871092249118235833.411.5431.861.67
193Merced836594652219129268432.085.5626.521.54
194Anderson10433643882945243.326.1337.192.78
195Albany20379376083064531.651.8229.831.47
196Chico942736112403141301431.976.4825.491.50
197Visalia1342244503978212442832.993.3529.641.58
198California City14051473932044031.313.3427.971.42
199Culver City393351881756138194449.424.7844.643.51
200Fairfield1178835873280177386732.804.9827.821.50
201Sacramento5070373329154179481874636.976.5730.411.87
202Upland77453290207299236230.503.7426.751.28
203Arvin215602073822258927.329.6017.721.02
204San Rafael59254257169587195232.944.3428.611.47
205Colton55203184160077178432.323.3328.981.39
206Pomona1534968774697269557436.315.7130.601.75
207Fresno53181829531778710632074039.005.5533.452.00
208South Gate955706342364124299831.376.6324.741.30
209Buena Park833362572583125284034.083.0831.001.50
210Palm Springs486442742078145235248.355.6342.722.98
211Ventura1112724453482176392735.294.0031.291.58
212Campbell41853119137968149835.792.8432.951.62
213Delano53141238143767167531.524.4827.041.26
214Arcata18073646653772940.343.5436.802.05
215Costa Mesa1143583443792188413636.173.0133.161.64
216Indio913464952242103273729.965.4224.541.13
217Clearlake150371095063161540.907.2533.652.06
218Manteca81080256228899254431.383.1628.221.22
219Pinole19509707474281741.883.5938.292.15
220Concord1308554734126197459935.153.6131.531.51
221Riverside3310221686102265221191235.995.0930.891.58
222Santa Monica926747974732397552959.668.6051.064.28
223Selma249792407254596538.639.6129.021.80
224Turlock742674202233114265335.725.6630.071.54
225Monterey28744112114364125543.663.9039.762.23
226Redlands719542642491123275538.293.6734.621.71
227Salinas1585909814304204528533.326.1927.141.29
228Grass Valley13004705172958745.145.3839.762.23
229Ceres49101228145262168034.224.6429.571.26
230Huntington Park58922429180090222937.837.2830.551.53
231Desert Hot Springs289913096383394732.6710.6622.011.14
232Calexico4059687106434115128.352.1426.210.84
233Blythe19517716843075538.683.6435.051.54
234Rialto1041735433038125358134.385.2129.161.20
235Susanville150171972741547131.3613.1218.251.00
236El Centro44609126162567175139.252.8236.431.50
237Richmond11098210464353253539948.659.4239.222.28
238Antioch1129566023330133393234.815.3329.481.18
239San Luis Obispo47885192180980200141.794.0137.781.67
240Capitola10218265072653352.162.5449.622.54
241Signal Hill11711866904677666.267.3458.923.93
242Berkeley1237355865381247596748.224.7443.492.00
243San Francisco88928261444921429135535862.256.9155.343.28
244Hemet860474322863104329538.295.0233.271.21
245Atwater2956517991033108936.836.0530.781.12
246Stockton3131584383118006711618351.6814.0037.682.14
247Redding920686203433135405344.026.7337.291.47
248Marysville124591125332564551.778.9942.782.01
249Santa Cruz656803902905123329550.175.9444.231.87
250Red Bluff143151657194088461.7511.5350.232.79
251Pleasant Hill3525257158456164146.551.6244.931.59
252San Leandro913594733584127405744.415.1839.231.39
253Modesto21582219047727301963144.628.8235.801.39
254Montclair39648239164660188547.546.0341.521.51
255Eureka27174197149168168862.127.2554.872.50
256Barstow24095285110251138757.5611.8345.742.12
257Bakersfield3856091895160975371799246.664.9141.741.39
258Vallejo1229749424508150545044.327.6636.661.22
259San Bernardino217986290690143941192054.6813.3341.351.81
260Oroville1918611298235109457.025.8451.181.82
261El Cerrito25793171131447148557.576.6350.941.82
262Oakland43023054802319010102867066.6412.7453.902.35
263Emeryville120161702014522184181.7614.15167.614.33

Methodology

To identify the safest cities, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and cities with populations under 10,000. This left 3,381 cities (out of a total of 9,251). 

There are two broad classifications of crimes: violent crimes and non-violent crimes. According to the FBI, “Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. ”

We computed the total number of crimes reported by each city by adding violent crimes and property crimes. We then created a crime rate as the number of crimes per 1,000 population. Then we transformed the total crime rate variable so that the skewness was reduced and normalized.

Data from 2,831 law enforcement agencies was then collected to determine police adequacy (TotalCrimes / Number of police employees).  We consider that the smaller the police adequacy statistic is, the safer the city is. This variable was also transformed and normalized.

Finally, the two variables were combined to create a safety score for each city.