California City, California
City of California City
West Side of California City Central Park
West Side of California City Central Park
Flag of California City, California
Official seal of California City, California
Nickname: 
Cal City
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; -117.98583
Country United States
State California
CountyKern
IncorporatedDecember 10, 1965[1]
Named forCalifornia
Government
 • MayorKelly Kulikoff [2]
Area
 • Total203.70 sq mi (527.57 km2)
 • Land203.61 sq mi (527.35 km2)
 • Water0.09 sq mi (0.22 km2)  0.04%
Elevation2,405 ft (733 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total14,973
 • Density73.54/sq mi (28.39/km2)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
93504-93505
Area codes442/760 and 661
FIPS code06-09780
GNIS feature IDs1660418, 2409960
Websitewww.californiacity-ca.gov

California City is a city located in northern Antelope Valley in Kern County, California, United States. It is 100 miles (160 km) north of the city of Los Angeles, and the population was 14,973 at the 2020 census. Covering 203.63 square miles (527.4 km2), California City has the third-largest land area of any city in the state of California (behind San Diego and Los Angeles), and is the largest city in California, by land area, that is not a county seat. It is the 43rd-largest city in the United States by land area.

Much of the workforce of Edwards Air Force Base, which is located 18 miles (29 km) southeast of the city, is made up of city residents. Other major employers are the California City Correctional Center (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation), Mojave Air and Space Port (and its flight test facility) and the Hyundai/Kia Proving Grounds, located in the rural southwestern part of the city. California City also has a park, a PGA golf course, and a municipal airport.

History

Early

Padre Francisco Garcés, a Franciscan missionary, camped at Castle Butte (what is now California City) during the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition of Alta California (1776).

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 to the east, ran through the California City area.[5]

Military

The Mojave Gunnery Range "C" was used from August 1944 until January 1959, when it became California City land; this had included bombing ranges and strafing targets, such as a vehicle convoy. It was also used for pilotless aircraft just after World War II. Unexploded ordnance and toxic waste is associated with the site; the Army Corps of Engineers began surveying the site in 1999 and, by 2001, the range was described as encompassing 20,908 acres (8,461 ha) southwest of the California City center.[6][7][8][9] Site surveys in 1999 found MK 23 3-pound practice bombs with unfired signal cartridges and 20 mm target practice projectiles, along with 2.25", 2.75" and 5" practice rockets, undetonated bombs and small arms ammunition (from .22 to .50 caliber). The largest fuzed and most dangerous bombs discovered were a pair of 100-pound general purpose bombs.[9]

Town

California City Central Park

The city was formed in 1958, when developers purchased 82,000 acres (33,000 ha) of western Mojave Desert. The new city was aggressively marketed.[10][11] Developers pitched the city as a northern alternative to Los Angeles, which the developers argued could not handle the post-war population-boom, and the region needed other communities to share the increase.[12] Instead of being built piecemeal, the whole city would be developed simultaneously.[12] The city was designed to be a planned community.[12] The masterplan was prepared by Smith and Williams and architect Garrett Eckbo at the behest of real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn.[13] The city included a central park with a 26-acre (11 ha) manmade lake, two golf courses, and a new Holiday Inn.[14] Mendelsohn was then president of a corporation called the California City Development Company. There were conflicting reports that the city was built over a large aquifer.[15][16][17] The city was originally designed to accommodate 400,000 people, with a downtown center capable of holding 80,000-100,000, and satellite suburbs housing the rest.[12]

A post office opened in 1960,[18] and the city incorporated in 1965, when it had 158 square miles (410 km2) of land, 5,900 landowners, 817 residents, and 232 homes.[1][19][20]

Unbuilt neighborhoods in California City

By 1965, population growth was less than the developer's projection,[21][19][22][23] and by 1969 only about 1,300 people lived in the city.[24] The Federal Trade Commission began inspecting the development company in 1969, and Ralph Nader's 25-person California task force (part of "Nader's Raiders") published "Power and Land in California" in 1971. Part of the book focused on California City, calling it a fraud and "a particularly stark study of government failure."[25][19][22][23] By the 1970s, over 50,000 lots had been sold and the market declined. The Federal Trade Commission filed a cease and desist against the home seller for misleading advertising about the city,[26] and in 1977, over 14,000 landowners receiving partial refunds from a $4 million pool, the largest FTC settlement to date. The sales company was also required to invest $16 million in long-promised infrastructure in various cities.[19][22][27][23][28]

California City had a population of 3,200 in 1985 and over 14,000 in 2018, clustered around the west end.[19]

In 2015, it was reported that California City's water usage had exceeded expectations, increasing by 28% in May of that year.[29] The rapidly increasing water usage was blamed on aging pipes beneath undeveloped portions of the city, faulty pumps reporting exaggerated figures, and the large number of inmates and workers at California City Correctional Facility.[29]

In June of 2016,[30] California City became the first city of Kern County, California, to allow commercial cannabis cultivation. The city anticipated an eventual profit of $10 million+ a year in tax revenue from the new policy; by the first quarter of 2023, the city had made around $98,000 in cannabis-related revenues.[31]

Geography

Although one of California's smaller cities in terms of population, California City is the third largest city in California by land area.[32] Satellite photos underscore its claim to being California's third-largest city by land area (40th largest in the United States).[33][19] Located in the northern Antelope Valley in Kern County, California, the city is 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.

Geology

In 2000, the depth to groundwater was 370 feet (110 m).[9]

The Garlock Fault runs nearby.

Climate

Climate data for California City, CA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 58
(14)
62
(17)
66
(19)
72
(22)
81
(27)
91
(33)
97
(36)
96
(36)
90
(32)
79
(26)
66
(19)
58
(14)
76
(25)
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 34
(1)
37
(3)
41
(5)
46
(8)
54
(12)
62
(17)
67
(19)
66
(19)
59
(15)
49
(9)
39
(4)
33
(1)
49
(9)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.34
(34)
1.51
(38)
1.13
(29)
0.22
(5.6)
0.15
(3.8)
0.05
(1.3)
0.16
(4.1)
0.27
(6.9)
0.28
(7.1)
0.28
(7.1)
0.43
(11)
0.81
(21)
6.63
(168.9)
Source: The Weather Channel[34]


Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
19701,309
19802,743109.5%
19905,955117.1%
20008,38540.8%
201014,12068.4%
202014,9736.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[35]

2000

According to the census[36] of 2000, there were 8,385 people in 3,067 households, including 2,257 families, 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.

Of the 3,067 households, 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 households were one person and 7.2% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.15.

The age distribution was 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% 65 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 family income 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.[37]

2010

At the 2010 census California City had a population of 14,120. The population density was 69.3 inhabitants 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%).[38]

The census reported that 11,506 people (81.5% of the population) lived in households, no one lived in non-institutionalized group quarters and 2,614 (18.5%) were institutionalized.

There were 4,102 households, 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 one person and 312 (7.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.80. There were 2,897 families (70.6% of households); the average family size was 3.30.

The age distribution was 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 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, of the occupied units 2,474 (60.3%) were owner-occupied and 1,628 (39.7%) were rented. 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.

Economy

The California City Correctional Center

Studies for a privately built and owned 2,000-4,000-bed prison on the east side of town began in 1995, and an environmental impact statement on a 550-bed facility was completed in 1996.[39] Contracts were signed between the city and Corrections Corporation of America and it was built in 1999.[40] The 2,304-bed California City Correctional Facility prison housed federal inmates for the U.S. Marshal Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2006 to 2013, then was leased to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2013 for $28.5 million per year in response to a federal order to reduce overcrowding in the state's prison facilities.[41][42][43][44][45] All inmates were moved out by November 2023.[46] The state terminated its lease so the prison will be effectively closed by March 2024.[47]

The 3,967 acres (1,605 ha) Hyundai-Kia proving grounds are in the city boundaries. 640 acres (260 ha) are in use.[9]

Sports

The California City Whiptails were a professional baseball team competing in the unaffiliated Pecos League. The team folded in 2019. Their home games were played at Balsitis Park.[48]

Education

Overhead view of California City High School

Mojave Unified School District serves California City:

Infrastructure

Transportation

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

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

References

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