2015 Safest Places in California

When deciding where to live, safety is a top priority. Our team at ValuePenguin has analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safety of cities in California. These 417 ranged in a crime score from 103 to almost 7,000 with an average of 1,290. Sacramento, the state’s centrally-located capital, fell to No. 399 in our rankings with a crime score of 2,744. This was true despite the fact that we adjusted our crime score metric for population size. The score also took into account both the amount of violent and property-related crimes per 100,000 people (more on our methodology below). For more insight, take a look at the report:

5 Safest Places in California

These cities have an average crime score of 189, which is 85 percent lower than their typical peer in California. With some of the state’s lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.

1. Hillsborough, Calif.

With a crime score that is 92 percent lower than a given California city, Hillsborough is the state’s safest. It reported zero violent crimes and 57 property crimes to the FBI in 2013. It’s worth mentioning that there is no private enterprise within the town limits, which is located 15 miles south of San Francisco. Interestingly here, the city council members elect the mayor and vice mayor directly from the council. Their average constituent is 15 years older than that of in-state peers and has an estimated household income of $200,000 and a home value $956,138, which are 243 and 174 percent higher than the norm, respectively.

Factor

Value

Population

11,245

Crime Score

103

2. Imperial, Calif.

The southernmost city among the top five, Imperial is the only other California place with a sub-200 crime score. The desert city, situated as a midway point between Los Angeles and Phoenix, works with its residents in what it calls an “E-Policing” program. It’s also home to Cenintela State Prison. Imperial, whose motto is “winning the west, herding success,” is outwardly courting private enterprise, which makes sense that its own beginnings can be traced back to Imperial Land Company.

Factor

Value

Population

15,943

Crime Score

196

3. Clayton, Calif.

With the lowest number of violent crimes (17) and property crimes (883) per 100,000 people, Clayton comes in third. The police department here credits its “Neighborhood Watch” and “Vacation House Watch” programs with involving its citizenry in the fight against crime, petty or otherwise. The city, which celebrated its 50th year of incorporation in 2014, boasts access to Mount Diablo Park, a national landmark and the home of the Bay Area’s tallest peak. It’s also 30 miles and 73 miles from San Francisco and Sacramento, respectively.

Factor

Value

Population

11,439

Crime Score

210

4. Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

The most populous city among the top five, Rancho Santa Margarita is also the youngest. Incorporated in 2000 as a planned, residential community, it contracts its police and fire department work out to Orange County. A majority of the residents are employed at Applied Medical, a medical device company in the city limits. The land previously belonged to Native Americans, Spanish settlers and Mexican governors in different parts of the county’s history.

Factor

Value

Population

49,190

Crime Score

212

5. Laguna Woods, Calif.

The second-largest city on the list, Laguna Woods narrowly bested Tiburon to round out the top five. Also a part of Orange County, it encompasses Laguna Woods Village, a community for senior citizens, and the city as a whole has a median age of 77. Also served by the public safety departments of the county, the city is a popular destination for those looking to buy a condo or join a co-op.

Factor

Value

Population

16,584

Crime Score

225

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 5,000 and 20,000, midsize cities with populations between 20,000 and 50,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 50,000. Here are our findings:

Safest Places in California

Full List of Places in California

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in California” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.

Full List of Places in California

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2013 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 3,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 90% and property crime at 10%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

Rank

CityPopulationViolent Crimes per 100kProperty Crimes per 100kCrime Score

353

Adelanto31,1656352,8431,923

42

Agoura Hills20,762921,474497

193

Alameda76,2062072,4961,064

147

Albany19,1041522,916917

154

Alhambra84,7101922,094942

9

Aliso Viejo50,00550630254

197

American Canyon20,0682692,5411,067

314

Anaheim345,3203272,7831,586

390

Anderson10,0986247,1402,554

404

Antioch106,4478894,1713,060

208

Apple Valley71,1592602,2401,111

146

Arcadia57,8551332,624910

331

Arcata17,8053764,7231,723

141

Arroyo Grande17,6341762,580884

213

Artesia16,7343761,9301,122

373

Arvin20,3907503,6492,241

203

Atascadero28,9383351,8801,092

52

Atherton7,2781371,580543

376

Atwater28,9066304,5772,286

210

Auburn13,7793562,1921,117

167

Avenal14,712421999998

317

Azusa47,7545152,2991,622

392

Bakersfield361,8595134,6472,575

196

Baldwin Park76,7452871,7851,067

283

Banning30,5034232,6491,448

398

Barstow23,1449893,3922,683

111

Bear Valley5,3282252,083765

223

Beaumont40,2082113,2281,180

300

Bell35,9285791,4891,526

166

Bell Gardens42,9802791,775993

270

Bellflower77,5943602,4251,385

55

Belmont26,6971011,637563

46

Benicia27,5581091,390526

375

Berkeley116,2174844,6272,275

229

Beverly Hills34,7802213,3901,221

393

Big Bear Lake5,1441,0894,1802,594

260

Blythe20,6293153,3591,336

296

Brawley25,7532374,7021,507

172

Brea40,6001582,9801,014

140

Brentwood54,3011642,236879

231

Buena Park82,6322672,6201,235

157

Burbank104,7271632,320951

105

Burlingame29,9361242,221747

32

Calabasas24,114831,298448

261

Calexico39,5272333,7291,339

374

California City13,3396525,1202,266

91

Calimesa8,1181722,033700

54

Calistoga5,2231721,436555

76

Camarillo66,1731101,708650

280

Campbell40,5492613,8551,429

16

Canyon Lake10,944271,435339

350

Capitola10,0383795,9771,878

149

Carlsbad110,5052001,887930

90

Carpinteria13,2871581,964698

307

Carson93,4154282,4101,556

204

Cathedral City53,0642812,1071,095

93

Central Marin34,1051202,038707

290

Ceres45,8762903,7491,482

225

Cerritos49,8161653,6171,198

288

Chico88,2263392,9151,475

258

Chino80,7043202,5331,328

44

Chino Hills76,943821,322503

277

Chowchilla17,6964582,5541,418

215

Chula Vista255,0732332,0721,127

315

Citrus Heights85,3373753,1091,599

115

Claremont35,6231042,510784

3

Clayton11,43917883210

387

Clearlake14,9518364,6152,534

34

Cloverdale8,718571,812458

239

Clovis99,4831823,4221,264

250

Coachella43,3302723,1661,302

369

Coalinga16,3987992,9582,139

295

Colton53,4033013,6251,497

98

Colusa5,9571682,317723

394

Commerce12,9956396,8722,596

411

Compton97,9071,2692,5923,497

319

Concord125,4643243,4731,629

153

Corcoran23,2903051,563941

342

Corning7,6316163,9311,839

120

Corona160,1591012,147795

70

Coronado23,183472,394615

251

Costa Mesa112,5382243,1601,307

180

Cotati7,3884741,0691,032

235

Covina48,5242842,7701,248

400

Crescent City7,3331,2822,7552,762

226

Cudahy24,0914611,3281,200

335

Culver City39,4524084,0961,785

38

Cupertino60,440681,343467

81

Cypress49,0671021,904662

148

Daly City104,5362131,753921

121

Dana Point34,2622041,710804

11

Danville43,41139951302

164

Davis66,1261562,687986

368

Delano52,2105923,7332,137

402

Desert Hot Springs27,9369923,9482,862

68

Diamond Bar56,6191101,565607

395

Dinuba23,4409133,7162,607

128

Dixon18,7431872,193828

412

Dos Palos5,0711,7554,1413,693

271

Downey113,2222882,9081,390

99

Duarte21,7591881,682732

75

Dublin49,7891411,484647

401

East Palo Alto29,0861,1932,0532,855

86

Eastvale54,8821151,831679

299

El Cajon102,0123782,6761,522

336

El Centro43,2493334,7151,788

334

El Cerrito24,1843804,6311,765

218

El Monte115,5912941,8881,148

200

El Segundo16,9112193,1811,089

221

Elk Grove160,9252911,8411,161

415

Emeryville10,4151,26715,8525,475

136

Encinitas61,4332071,760867

102

Escalon7,3041372,615743

318

Escondido148,6504012,6671,623

405

Eureka26,8817147,7643,143

126

Exeter10,5061902,370820

57

Fairfax7,5631721,375567

346

Fairfield108,4254593,2591,860

241

Farmersville10,7864362,3921,274

48

Fillmore15,2061711,000531

322

Firebaugh8,0628686081,645

100

Folsom73,7821331,811732

269

Fontana203,4273562,0101,384

379

Fort Bragg7,2457325,3972,313

268

Fortuna11,8033473,6351,376

12

Foster City32,65246934304

130

Fountain Valley56,8051622,060836

310

Fowler6,0386132,7491,563

113

Fremont224,4751221,825782

389

Fresno508,8765014,4382,553

257

Fullerton139,6762662,7631,327

161

Galt24,5532572,106970

211

Garden Grove175,4692591,9361,119

275

Gardena59,7034102,2291,413

304

Gilroy51,2403513,3961,544

78

Glendale195,366931,637654

142

Glendora50,8931282,633891

71

Goleta30,4011411,484617

108

Gonzales8,4282851,293757

177

Grand Terrace12,3643072,2571,027

403

Grass Valley12,7928995,8712,867

256

Greenfield16,9225261,5311,325

384

Gridley6,5631,0972,9102,440

170

Grover Beach13,3982912,2621,007

20

Guadalupe7,205139722381

313

Gustine5,6556902,2101,580

359

Hanford54,4255493,5632,014

174

Hawaiian Gardens14,4373881,4201,022

367

Hawthorne86,1326732,6032,137

333

Hayward150,9553903,2091,740

124

Healdsburg11,4832182,055815

383

Hemet81,6985474,8512,401

26

Hercules24,831891,103418

133

Hermosa Beach19,8581362,765857

298

Hesperia92,6214012,5161,521

263

Highland54,4623512,5011,340

1

Hillsborough11,245-
507103

284

Hollister36,4145361,5651,457

80

Holtville6,0221991,694659

61

Hughson6,8981012,131583

206

Huntington Beach195,8421852,5191,107

360

Huntington Park58,8526103,0792,044

391

Huron6,8121,0423,9782,560

2

Imperial15,94344539196

264

Imperial Beach26,9984931,6821,356

131

Indian Wells5,1741353,324843

363

Indio80,2435833,3642,112

364

Inglewood111,6726622,4342,118

25

Ione7,160841,411418

41

Irvine235,830481,393490

272

Jurupa Valley98,0902723,1251,391

36

Kensington5,230961,625463

227

Kerman14,5433092,9981,203

238

King City13,2605131,5161,264

150

Kingsburg11,6511972,807931

29

La Canada Flintridge20,572581,473430

107

La Habra61,7401431,871756

10

La Habra Heights5,437551,012281

287

La Mesa58,4823093,3651,465

94

La Mirada49,1501461,711710

53

La Palma15,950632,044549

173

La Puente40,4153541,2201,015

232

La Quinta39,1501743,8161,236

112

La Verne31,4391182,395777

49

Lafayette24,829851,663534

117

Laguna Beach23,3131762,012785

96

Laguna Hills31,1341701,632710

28

Laguna Niguel64,89488962422

5

Laguna Woods16,58430796225

175

Lake Elsinore56,2321832,6571,022

51

Lake Forest79,3361321,025542

233

Lakewood81,0862772,5431,236

337

Lancaster159,7925212,1871,789

242

Lawndale33,2344871,2611,276

303

Lemon Grove26,1565541,9461,531

279

Lemoore24,8024482,4511,424

23

Lincoln44,831561,234404

187

Lindsay13,2083032,3471,045

234

Livermore84,3503202,1701,244

103

Livingston13,6832411,432745

343

Lodi63,6394513,6161,843

222

Loma Linda23,7012573,0421,171

190

Lomita20,6223202,0081,054

285

Lompoc43,5814312,4121,459

361

Long Beach469,6655002,7682,061

168

Los Alamitos11,7352053,0681,000

27

Los Altos30,225761,184418

7

Los Altos Hills8,300241,000238

356

Los Angeles3,878,7254262,2131,992

237

Los Banos36,9652952,8681,261

59

Los Gatos30,351821,815572

345

Lynwood71,0776132,1501,860

397

Madera62,9739022,9462,655

158

Malibu12,8912172,715959

104

Mammoth Lakes8,2582181,841745

144

Manhattan Beach35,9301782,374906

306

Manteca72,2612933,7351,548

195

Marina20,4262452,7421,066

122

Martinez36,9101442,232806

371

Marysville12,1687154,4302,219

192

Maywood27,7444041,1531,064

281

McFarland12,2885292,2301,429

214

Mendota11,4723312,5631,125

110

Menifee82,6341202,033765

109

Menlo Park33,1461601,943765

378

Merced81,3296843,2552,311

39

Mill Valley14,239771,608478

171

Milpitas69,5221342,9731,012

24

Mission Viejo95,895651,041405

407

Modesto204,2528344,8913,292

123

Monrovia37,0711542,174813

358

Montclair37,7854954,2952,003

246

Montebello63,5662882,7621,286

325

Monterey29,3384093,7771,666

127

Monterey Park61,1521701,900821

40

Moorpark35,2641051,160479

14

Moraga16,66466900315

302

Moreno Valley201,2843172,9171,530

97

Morgan Hill39,9071581,694717

138

Morro Bay10,4122981,642869

163

Mountain View77,3992032,204985

47

Murrieta107,768651,522530

220

Napa78,7613241,7891,152

351

National City59,6375273,1691,889

217

Newark43,9502802,4161,146

162

Newman10,6913371,852984

119

Newport Beach87,639832,462793

116

Norco27,4971532,160785

273

Norwalk106,5183822,1091,394

118

Novato53,7351991,556792

249

Oakdale21,3402343,8711,294

417

Oakland403,8871,9776,2336,735

87

Oakley37,8241851,314682

305

Oceanside172,5253672,6051,547

64

Ojai7,5851851,358586

259

Ontario168,1442692,6801,333

89

Orange140,3041051,723687

416

Orange Cove9,7502,1749,0265,703

19

Orinda18,520541,156350

201

Orland7,4203642,3581,090

377

Oroville15,5815016,4892,306

282

Oxnard202,5943212,5051,431

88

Pacific Grove15,5181421,985684

85

Pacifica38,4941711,418678

294

Palm Desert50,4562184,3901,494

380

Palm Springs46,2825515,0782,341

328

Palmdale156,5224852,1361,688

95

Palo Alto66,964812,215710

13

Palos Verdes Estates13,658441,076304

159

Paradise26,2222592,021962

311

Paramount54,8684052,9761,569

327

Parlier14,8566132,5241,677

278

Pasadena139,0033122,7191,421

248

Paso Robles30,7953342,7541,293

183

Patterson20,7331983,0431,041

276

Perris72,1713342,8241,416

191

Petaluma59,2243021,7101,057

243

Pico Rivera63,7103252,3871,276

139

Piedmont10,9631822,664869

289

Pinole18,8483663,6341,481

245

Pismo Beach7,8242814,0521,281

262

Pittsburg66,3872793,0461,340

72

Placentia52,0021271,508625

326

Placerville10,3396092,8441,671

253

Pleasant Hill34,0441624,3151,308

66

Pleasanton72,975821,755606

357

Pomona151,3665342,9031,997

145

Port Hueneme21,9102601,848909

274

Porterville55,2673512,7251,395

79

Poway49,4441821,163657

352

Rancho Cordova67,6345203,2561,917

181

Rancho Cucamonga172,2621922,2201,034

182

Rancho Mirage17,8161463,5701,038

37

Rancho Palos Verdes42,542711,363463

4

Rancho Santa Margarita49,19035590212

408

Red Bluff14,1701,0306,6203,298

385

Redding91,0356434,1462,463

330

Redlands70,2823064,2971,709

198

Redondo Beach67,9932352,3361,075

205

Redwood City79,7072382,3471,100

329

Reedley25,0186282,1141,708

316

Rialto102,5204232,6501,618

410

Richmond107,3411,0364,4963,476

301

Ridgecrest28,5375401,9971,528

266

Rio Vista7,6224203,2141,358

82

Ripon14,8021012,310671

156

Riverbank23,4741582,918948

355

Riverside316,4234203,3521,961

74

Rocklin59,6211041,696628

247

Rohnert Park41,3264361,6621,289

17

Rolling Hills Estates8,229361,434344

186

Rosemead54,5872731,9551,045

219

Roseville126,2362072,6481,151

399

Sacramento478,1826563,7602,744

382

Salinas155,7426433,4392,395

409

San Bernardino214,3229094,3813,348

188

San Bruno42,4952402,3581,046

43

San Clemente65,295861,293498

339

San Diego1,349,3063932,3511,805

134

San Dimas33,8541922,085864

194

San Fernando23,9553551,6661,064

413

San Francisco833,8638475,7953,972

155

San Gabriel40,2872561,797944

292

San Jacinto45,7142713,9481,488

323

San Jose992,1433242,5711,645

69

San Juan Capistrano35,5851601,234609

365

San Leandro87,4904504,5262,119

320

San Luis Obispo46,0953493,8511,630

152

San Marcos87,7122441,596937

73

San Marino13,3081501,683625

189

San Mateo100,4402382,0561,050

372

San Pablo29,8936693,9142,223

293

San Rafael58,7253513,0861,489

15

San Ramon74,434361,021328

340

Sanger24,6495922,9451,817

267

Santa Ana332,8483371,9301,370

321

Santa Barbara90,0064022,9661,631

160

Santa Clara120,1501432,516966

84

Santa Clarita204,9511351,324674

396

Santa Cruz62,5176515,0592,618

381

Santa Fe Springs16,9364437,1212,349

338

Santa Maria102,0514802,8751,802

332

Santa Monica92,4883503,8321,734

212

Santa Paula30,1593581,7771,120

244

Santa Rosa171,5643152,0441,277

202

Santee55,9242792,0831,091

8

Saratoga30,89745719252

199

Sausalito7,0661424,3731,088

83

Scotts Valley11,694942,454671

50

Seal Beach24,798651,863538

207

Seaside34,1473511,7311,108

143

Sebastopol7,5703041,929905

388

Selma23,9357984,4122,539

255

Shafter17,1393383,1801,317

33

Sierra Madre11,0481181,168451

297

Signal Hill11,2402854,9291,518

63

Simi Valley126,2151051,354586

129

Solana Beach13,2392042,221836

106

Soledad26,637274946755

35

Solvang5,3731301,303461

176

Sonoma10,9123481,9431,025

252

South El Monte20,3544322,1811,307

347

South Gate95,5915192,8221,866

324

South Lake Tahoe21,2435462,7541,659

92

South Pasadena25,9371122,190706

125

South San Francisco66,1571781,796819

21

St. Helena5,9341011,213400

169

Stanton39,1282861,7941,003

414

Stockton299,7961,2085,0304,355

151

Suisun City28,8052222,187933

77

Sunnyvale148,160971,643650

286

Susanville16,2705102,3601,463

354

Taft8,8396793,7451,945

216

Tehachapi13,6073012,8291,145

135

Temecula106,680852,670864

58

Temple City36,2691321,312570

56

Thousand Oaks128,8841081,245566

6

Tiburon9,13322953228

114

Torrance147,5341271,888783

184

Tracy85,1741782,6251,042

30

Truckee16,1461111,071436

386

Tulare61,4247004,2542,527

349

Turlock70,0754423,7531,873

101

Tustin78,8361271,868737

137

Twentynine Palms25,9142861,362869

366

Ukiah15,8747313,5532,128

228

Union City72,4803012,2541,206

224

Upland75,6402152,9531,192

179

Vacaville94,3472132,2221,030

406

Vallejo118,3368614,8463,195

291

Ventura108,2042423,7221,485

362

Victorville121,6995353,4222,094

31

Villa Park5,9591011,443444

348

Visalia127,8243913,7971,868

309

Vista96,7124602,1151,559

65

Walnut30,2791221,529589

185

Walnut Creek66,1491183,2671,043

209

Waterford8,5903382,6081,111

308

Watsonville52,0764552,5121,558

240

West Covina107,8672143,1241,271

370

West Hollywood34,9026194,1122,199

312

West Sacramento49,7514122,9811,571

60

Westlake Village8,4401301,754574

265

Westminster91,8853082,6951,357

236

Whittier86,4502582,7571,254

67

Wildomar33,4531201,602607

22

Williams5,176971,294402

178

Willows6,1222782,9241,027

165

Windsor27,249385987987

45

Winters6,9921141,645513

62

Woodlake7,4171351,807585

344

Woodland56,5234813,4361,845

18

Yorba Linda67,492441,037346

341

Yreka7,6396413,6391,827

254

Yuba City65,1332673,0401,310

132

Yucaipa52,5242041,763849

230

Yucca Valley21,2144052,0221,226

Ting is a ValuePenguin Co-Founder. She previously evaluated corporate mergers and acquisitions as a Financial Analyst at Citigroup.