The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
California’s 50 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 Safest Cities in California for 2021
2. Rancho Santa Margarita
4. Rancho Palos Verdes
5. Aliso Viejo
6. Lake Forest
7. Yorba Linda
8. Laguna Niguel
9. Mission Viejo
See if your city made the full list.
When it comes to safety, daily concern seems to be the California state of mind. The Golden State placed in the top five for four of the eight concerns we asked about.
From those we surveyed, 56% of Californians feel a high daily level of concern for their safety. Californians were second in the nation for highest concern over COVID-19, third in the nation for concern over gun violence and police violence, and fifth for concern over violent crime. But, for all this worry, 40% say they feel safe in California.
2021 California crime rates
Violent crime is a top concern for 54% of Californians. The state has a higher violent crime rate than the country as a whole. The good news is that the rate has decreased slightly over the last year.
Level of concern and experience with crime in California
Californians are highly concerned about their safety, especially when it comes to violent crimes.
But those we surveyed showed less experience with violent crime since last year and much less property crime since 2020. Though these rates have dropped year over year, they’re still higher than average.
Crime concerns in California
We asked Californians which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if California residents are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.
View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.
Violent crime in California: Fear vs. reality
Californians are highly concerned about their safety and have the crime rates to back it up, yet only 25% use personal protection (US 34%). Even the safest cities aren’t immune to the violent crime across the state.
- All 50 safest cities in California have violent crime rates below the state, regional, and national averages.
- 38 of the 50 cities saw less than 100 violent crimes in the last year and 17 kept violent crime rates under 1 per 1,000 people.
- There was a higher percentage of rape in the safest cities (13%) than across the state (9%).
- Statewide, there were over 105,000 cases of aggravated assault.
- California saw 39 mass shooting incidents in 2020. This number is reflected by the 72% of Californians who said gun violence was a top safety concern.
- The police are a concern for residents of The Golden State as well. 61% said they worried about police violence daily.
- There were 294 officer-involved shootings in California in 2020. 48% of Californians say they have confidence in law enforcement.
- 25% of Californians use some type of personal protection like pepper spray or stun guns.
- 54% say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- California was the third most concerned state when it comes to gun violence.
Violent crime rates 2019–2021
Property crime in California: Fear vs. reality
Property crime in California is well above the national average of 21.1 per 1,000 people. But those rates are steadily dropping year over year. All of the safest cities landed below the state, regional, and national rates for property crime.
- 35 of the safest cities saw under 1,000 property crimes in the last year and 14 of those were under 500 incidents.
- Larceny-theft was the most common property crime in The Golden State with over 626,000 incidences in the last year.
- There was a higher percentage of larceny-theft in the safest cities (74%) than across the state (68%).
- 64% of Californians use some form of property protection with security systems being the most popular (30%), followed by security cameras (29%).
- 8% of Californians use firearms to protect their property compared to the national average of 26%.
- 38% say the security of their property has been affected by the pandemic.
Property crime rates 2019–2021
A closer look at the safest cities in California
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
- The top three safest cities in California hold their title and spot for the second year in a row. Five of the 50 saw no change in ranking.
- The top two cities, Danville and Rancho Santa Margarita, tied for the number of property crimes in the last year (296). But Danville came out on top this year for its lower violent crime rate (0.5).
- 17 of the 50 safest cities kept violent crime rates under 1 per 1,000 people.
- Baldwin Park, California was the most improved city this year, jumping from number 100 to number 50. Meanwhile, Pacifica dropped ranking 21 to 40.
- Santa Clarita (pop. 218,103) was the largest city on our list and had a violent crime rate of 1.3 and property crime rate of 9.4.
- Dana Point (pop. 33,779) was the smallest city on our list and jumped 19 spots to number 27 this year.
- The top 12 cities on our list had violent crime rates under 1 per 1,000.
- Aggravated assault made up over half of the violent crime incidents in the safest cities. There were over 2,500 cases in the last year within all 50 cities.
- 22 of the 50 safest cities reported zero murders in the last year.
- Danville, Rancho Santa Margarita, Moorpark, Aliso Viejo, and Cupertino held the same spots from last year.
How we determined the safest cities
Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Didn't find your city in the top 50?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.
NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.
VC per 1,000
PC per 1,000
|86||Manhattan Beach||35, 583||1.5||23.9|
|100||South San Francisco||68,251||2.4||21.7|
|201||San Luis Obispo||47,735||4.0||36.4|
Find the safest cities in each state
Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.
Related articles on SafeWise
FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.
Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.
For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.