California City, California

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California City, California
City of California City
West Side of California City Central Park
West Side of California City Central Park
Official seal of California City, California
Location of California City in Kern County, California.
Location of California City in Kern County, California.
California City, California is located in the United States
California City, California
California City, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 35°07′33″N 117°59′09″W / 35.12583°N 117.98583°W / 35.12583; -117.98583Coordinates: 35°07′33″N 117°59′09″W / 35.12583°N 117.98583°W / 35.12583; -117.98583
Country United States
State California
IncorporatedDecember 10, 1965[1]
 • MayorCharles McGuire[2]
 • State SenatorShannon Grove (R)[3]
 • State AssemblyTom Lackey (R)[4]
 • U. S. CongressKevin McCarthy (R)[5]
 • Total203.63 sq mi (527.40 km2)
 • Land203.55 sq mi (527.19 km2)
 • Water0.09 sq mi (0.23 km2)  0.04%
Elevation2,405 ft (733 m)
 • Total14,120
 • Estimate 
 • Density69.85/sq mi (26.97/km2)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-09780
GNIS feature IDs1660418, 2409960

California City (abbreviated as Cal City) is a city incorporated in 1965 located in the northern Antelope Valley in Kern County, California, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Edwards Air Force Base, 28 miles (45 km) east of Tehachapi, 40 miles (64 km) north of Lancaster, 49 miles (79 km) southwest of Ridgecrest, 67 miles (108 km) east of the city of Bakersfield, and 101 miles (163 km) north of the city of Los Angeles. The population was 14,120 at the 2010 census. Covering 203.631 square miles (527.40 km2), California City is known for having the third-largest land area of any city in the state of California.

California City has a PGA golf course, one prison, one municipal airport, and is home to the California City Whiptails, a professional independent baseball league team associated with the Pecos League.[9] Much of the workforce of Edwards Air Force Base, which is located just to the south of the city, is made up of city residents. Other major sources of employment include California City Correctional Center (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation); Mojave Air and Space Port and its flight test operations; and the Hyundai/Kia Proving Grounds located in the rural southwestern part of the city.



The area where California City now exists was largely uninhabited prior to the 1960s. Padre Francisco Garcés, a Franciscan missionary, camped at Castle Butte in what is now California City in 1776 during the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition of modern-day California and Arizona, then part of Alta California.

In the late 19th century, the Twenty Mule Team Trail, which carried loads of borax to the railhead in Mojave from Harmony Borax Works mines in the east, ran through the California City area.[10]


California City looking west

California City, which incorporated on December 10, 1965, had its origins in 1958 when Columbia University sociology professor and real estate developer Nat Mendelsohn purchased 82,000 acres (33,000 ha) of Mojave Desert land with the aim of master-planning California's next great city. He designed his model city, which he hoped would one day rival Los Angeles in size, around a Central Park with a 26-acre (11 ha) artificial lake.[11] Growth fell well short of his expectations; by the time Mendelsohn sold his shares in the town in 1969, only 1,300 people had moved in. Today, a vast grid of crumbling paved roads which define residential blocks extend well beyond the developed area of the city, giving California City the appearance of a ghost town. Satellite photos underscore its claim to being California's third-largest city by land area (40th largest in the United States).[12]

Although areas of California City have not developed as expected, California City has grown from 3,200 people in 1985 to over 14,000 in 2018. Cerro Coso Community College closed escrow on 22 acres (8.9 ha) in the heart of California City for a Community College to serve Edwards AFB, California City, Mojave, Boron, North Edwards and the entire high desert in the Antelope Valley.[citation needed]

The first post office opened in 1960.[13]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 203.6 square miles (527 km2), of which 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) or 0.05% is water. Although one of California's smaller cities in terms of population, California City is the third largest city in California by land area.[14]


Climate data for California City, CA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 58
Average low °F (°C) 34
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.34
Source: The Weather Channel[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201814,217[8]0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]


According to the census[17] of 2000, there were 8,385 people, 3,067 households, and 2,257 families residing in the city. As of 2006 the city's population grew 8.9% from 12,106 to 13,219. California City outpaced rivals Palmdale and Lancaster, making the city the 12th fastest growing city in California. This also made California City the fastest growing city in the Antelope Valley. The population density was 41.2 inhabitants per square mile (15.9/km2). There were 3,560 housing units at an average density of 17.5/sq mi (6.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 68.19% White, 12.82% Black or African American, 1.56% Native American, 3.73% Asian, 0.32% Pacific Islander, 7.43% from other races, and 5.94% from two or more races. 16.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,067 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city, the population was spread out with 30.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,735, and the median income for a family was $51,402. Males had a median income of $44,657 versus $28,152 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,902. About 12.5% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.0% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.

31% of the male population were public administrators in 2006. Public administration is the most common job in California City.

Although the growth of the city has not met its founders' expectations, California City has seen substantial population growth over the past several years. The Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance estimated California City's population at 12,048 as of January 1, 2006. California City's population increased an estimated 4.2% in 2005, over three times the growth rate of the state as a whole. California City currently ranks 345th out of 478 incorporated cities in California, up from 348th in 2005.[18]

In the 2004 Presidential election, 66% voted for the Republican candidate, and 32% voted for the Democratic candidate. In 2016 the vote for president was 53% Republican and 40% Democratic.


The 2010 United States Census[19] reported that California City had a population of 14,120. The population density was 69.3 people per square mile (26.8/km²). The racial makeup of California City was 9,188 (65.1%) White (39.9% were non-Hispanic whites), 2,150 (15.2%) African American, 132 (0.9%) Native American, 367 (2.6%) Asian, 59 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 1,431 (10.1%) from other races, and 793 (5.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5,385 persons (38.1%).

The Corrections Corporation of America prison on the east side of town with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service contracts, contains 2,304 prisoners, almost entirely of Hispanic ethnicity, which are included in the U.S. Census Bureau statistics.[20]

The Census reported that 11,506 people (81.5% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 2,614 (18.5%) were institutionalized.

There were 4,102 households, out of which 1,611 (39.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,980 (48.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 630 (15.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 287 (7.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 335 (8.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 22 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 949 households (23.1%) were made up of individuals and 312 (7.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80. There were 2,897 families (70.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.30.

The population was spread out with 3,449 people (24.4%) under the age of 18, 1,294 people (9.2%) aged 18 to 24, 4,617 people (32.7%) aged 25 to 44, 3,570 people (25.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,190 people (8.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 144.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 160.1 males.

There were 5,210 housing units at an average density of 25.6 per square mile (9.9/km²), of which 2,474 (60.3%) were owner-occupied, and 1,628 (39.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 8.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 22.5%. 6,584 people (46.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 4,922 people (34.9%) lived in rental housing units.


The California City Correctional Center

The crime index for 2006 was 267.1[21] (239.8 was the national average).[citation needed] There were 15 full-time law enforcement officers. There were two murders in 2006.



California City is served by Highway 14 to the west and Highway 58 to the south. Kern Transit provides direct bus service to Mojave, Lancaster, and Ridgecrest with connections to Tehachapi and Bakersfield. The direct line to Lancaster also provides a direct connection with Metrolink's Antelope Valley line, with service into Los Angeles. Within the city, California City Dial-A-Ride (DAR) Transit provides transportation on a demand-response basis on weekdays (except on holidays when City Hall is closed).

Public safety[edit]

As an incorporated city that does not contract with Kern County, California City has its own police and fire departments.


The California City Whiptails are a professional baseball team competing in the independent Pecos League which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball. Their home games are played at Balsitis Park.[9]


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  2. ^ "City Government". City of California City. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "California's 23rd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  6. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "California City". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  8. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "California City Whiptails". Official Website of the California City Whiptails. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Deaver, W. "Mojave's History". Mojave Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on September 25, 2006. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  11. ^ Anton, Mike (August 14, 2010). "A desert city that didn't fan out". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  12. ^ Hardy, Michael (September 5, 2019). "The Unbuilt Streets of California's Ghost Metropolis". Wired. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 1010. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  14. ^ "California City: How A Developer's Failed Dream Became The State's Biggest Water Waster". CBS Sacramento. July 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "Monthly Averages for California City, CA". The Weather Channel. 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  18. ^ "E-1 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State with Annual Percent Change — January 1, 2005 and 2006". California Department of Finance. May 2006. Archived from the original on September 23, 2006. Retrieved September 3, 2006.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - California City city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "CCA Facilities". CCA. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  21. ^ "Crime in California City, California (CA): murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, arson, law enforcement employees, police officers, crime map". Retrieved January 14, 2017.

External links[edit]