Safest Cities in California

California conjures up images of palm trees, sunshine, and a vast, blue ocean - a place of worry-free living and good times all around. It’s the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood sign, and 840 miles of ocean shoreline (the 3rd longest shoreline in the United States). California also contains the most national parks in the U.S., including the Redwood National Park home of the tallest living tree, Hyperion, at 379 feet tall. California’s name was inspired by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo’s 1510 novel which takes place in a tropical island paradise inhabited by beautiful Amazonian warriors... The Great Gold Rush (1848-1855) brought hundreds of thousands of settlers to California in search of fortune - and that hasn’t changed. Google, Facebook, Apple and the rest of Silicon Valley have helped make California the first trillion-dollar economy in the United States.

12% of U.S. population at 37 million
3.36 violent crimes per 1,000 people
9.8% below average U.S. property crime rate

Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.

1.  IMPERIAL

Sitting in the Southernmost county of California, Imperial is 5.9 square miles of desert, but what it's lacking in water it more than makes up for in community-building events. Imperial's residents rally together for cook offs, their annual Craft Beer Invitational, movies in the park, and an End of Summer Splash Bash. Imperial boasts below average crime rates all around. Its property crime rate is substantially lower at 3.1 per 1,000 persons compared to the state average of 25.66 and state average of 28.

17,338 Population
5 Violent Crimes
54 Property Crimes

2. LOS ALTOS HILLS 

Los Altos Hills literally translates to “The Tall Hills” and is, appropriately, filled with... rolling hills. Nestled near the Southern part of the San Francisco Bay area, it's only 8.8 square miles, however, that milage is 100% residential - by design. Los Altos Hills has instituted a successful ban on commercial zones in an effort to be a strictly residential city, with the exception of a book store on the college campus. It does not have a post office, library, or anything else of the sort. They've successfully made the community extremely people-oriented by offering a wide variety of programs for all ages. This has paid off as there was only one reported violent crime for the year. It is home to people like Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Barry Bonds, the famous baseball player. Not surprisingly, this incredible city has a median income of $157,500.

8,485 Population
1 Violent Crimes
60 Property Crimes

3. RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA

Located in Orange County, Rancho Santa Margarita is one of the youngest communities in California. It sits on 13 square miles of land and its weather emulates a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters that rarely go below freezing. Most of the neighborhoods are run by homeowners associations which help maintain certain levels of quality and safety - probably why they're in the top three safest cities this year.

49,719 Population
44 Violent Crimes
303 Property Crimes

4. ALISO VIEJO

Aliso Viejo translates to "Old Alder" and was named after the expansive forests of white alder trees that inhabit the area. This Orange County city was a planned one, booming from 7,612 people in 1990 to 50,751 people in 2016 - an increase of 667%. It's small, at 7.5 square miles, and, like many others in Southern California, contains 0% water. Aliso Viejo's low crime rates are probably why annual events like their Spring Kick-Off Party and Snow Fest are so successful. Of course, the beautiful mountain range views only help make this community an even better place to live in. 

50,751 Population
32 Violent Crimes
363 Property Crimes

5. LAGUNA WOODS

Less than a 2-minute bus ride from Aliso Viejo and a 20-minute ride to Laguna Beach (one of California's most famous) is another city that has a lot in common with its predecessor, especially when it comes to safety ratings. In addition to its low crime rates, this 6.6 square mile city has a significantly lower unemployment rate than the rest of the state - 3.8% compared with Orange County's 5.8%, and California’s at 8.5%. Although smaller than its counterpart, it offers 58 restaurants with a wide range of cuisines, Fossil Reef Park (a 17 million year old preservation that hosts 48 species of marine fossil vertebrates), and an incredible children’s museum called Pretend City where children are encouraged to use their imagination and work together. 

16,501 Population
5 Violent Crimes
141 Property Crimes

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The Top 50 Safest Cities in California, 2017

1. Imperial

11. Yorba Linda

21. Orinda

31. Villa Park

41. Mill Valley

2. Los Altos Hills

12. La Habra Heights

22. Calabasas

32. Lake Forest

42. San Juan Capistrano

3. Rancho Santa Margarita

13. Hillsborough

23. Truckee

33. Bear Valley

43. Chino Hills

4. Aliso Viejo

14. Los Altos

24. San Ramon

34. San Clemente

44. La Canada Flintridge

5. Laguna Woods

15. Moorpark

25. Moraga

35. Thousand Oaks

45. Irvine

6. Ione

16. Danville

26. Sierra Madre

36. Clayton

46. Agoura Hills

7. Canyon Lake

17. Saratoga

27. Atherton

37. Rancho Palos Verdes

47. Diamond Bar

8. Foster City

18. Laguna Niguel

28. Walnut

38. Simi Valley

48. Guadalupe

9. Tiburon

19. Poway

29. Mission Viejo

39. Lincoln

49. Kensington

10. Ojai

20. Buellton

30. Palos Verdes Estates

40. Rolling Hills Estates

50. Carpinteria

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in California, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000.


The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.

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