10 episodes

Deep in the Mojave Desert, there is a little town with a big name and a bizarre history: California City. For decades, real estate developers have sold a dream here: if you buy land now, you’ll be rich one day. Thousands of people bought this dream. Many were young couples and hard-working immigrants looking to build a better future. But much of the land they bought is nearly worthless.  In this new podcast from LAist Studios, host Emily Guerin tells a story of money, power and deception. 

California City LAist Studios

    • News
    • 4.5 • 1.2K Ratings

Deep in the Mojave Desert, there is a little town with a big name and a bizarre history: California City. For decades, real estate developers have sold a dream here: if you buy land now, you’ll be rich one day. Thousands of people bought this dream. Many were young couples and hard-working immigrants looking to build a better future. But much of the land they bought is nearly worthless.  In this new podcast from LAist Studios, host Emily Guerin tells a story of money, power and deception. 

    Where Dreams Go To Die

    Where Dreams Go To Die

    Silver Saddle Ranch gets sold, and the people who still believe it’s worth something stage a protest. Plus, a former employee comes forward with a disturbing story.

    This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

    • 24 min
    Bonus Episode: Cashing In On The Desert

    Bonus Episode: Cashing In On The Desert

    For decades, Californians have been obsessed with trying to profit off desert land. In this bonus episode of California City, host Emily Guerin, the Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne, and artist and curator Kim Stringfellow explore the myths of the Mojave Desert as "wasteland," failed schemes and utopias, Instagram-driven tourism and coronavirus refugees. The audio was recorded during a live virtual event on September 3, 2020 and presented by LAist Studios and KPCC in partnership with The Autry Museum of the American West.

     

    California City sponsors include:

    Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go right now to SUNBASKET.com/calcity and enter promo code calcity at checkout.

    Simplisafe: Try SimpliSafe today at SimpliSafe.com/CALCITY. You get free shipping and a 60-day risk free trial. There’s nothing to lose.

    Korea Tourism Organization: Visit Korea and experience delicious food, vibrant cities, and natural beauty. Please visit https://www.visitkorea.com.my/

    Caltech: Cal Tech Science Exchange provides trustworthy answers, clear explanations, and fact-driven conversation on critical topics in science and technology. Please visit scienceexchange.caltech.edu

    • 51 min
    The Reckoning

    The Reckoning

    Silver Saddle gets shut down and accused of fraud. Will the company - and the dream Ben Perez believed - survive?

    California City is a limited series with 8 episodes. Show support by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts.

    California City sponsors include:

    Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go right now to SUNBASKET.com/calcity and enter promo code calcity at checkout.

    Try SimpliSafe today at SimpliSafe.com/CALCITY. You get free shipping and a 60-day risk free trial. There’s nothing to lose.

    • 35 min
    Open Secret

    Open Secret

    Fear, rumors, and looking the other way. How salesmen have sold the fantasy of California City for so long.

    California City is a limited series with 8 episodes. Show support by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts.

    California City sponsors include:

    Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go right now to SUNBASKET.com/calcity and enter promo code calcity at checkout.

    Try SimpliSafe today at SimpliSafe.com/CALCITY. You get free shipping and a 60-day risk free trial. There’s nothing to lose.

     

    • 30 min
    The Hunted Becomes The Hunter

    The Hunted Becomes The Hunter

    Emily confronts the owner of Silver Saddle and walks away doubting herself. Plus, Ben becomes part of Silver Saddle's sales machine.

    California City is a limited series with 8 episodes. Show support by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts.

    California City sponsors include:

    Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go right now to SUNBASKET.com/calcity and enter promo code calcity at checkout.

    Try SimpliSafe today at SimpliSafe.com/CALCITY. You get free shipping and a 60-day risk free trial. There’s nothing to lose.

    This LAist Studios podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp and our listeners get 10% off their first month of online therapy at BetterHelp.com/LAist

    Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live.This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

    • 28 min
    The Tragedy That Occurred

    The Tragedy That Occurred

    Ken Donney is a hero to some, but most people would call him a villain. 

    California City is a limited series with 8 episodes. Show support by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts.

    California City sponsors include:

    Sun Basket is offering $35 off your order when you go right now to SUNBASKET.com/calcity and enter promo code calcity at checkout.

    This LAist Studios podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp and our listeners get 10% off their first month of online therapy at BetterHelp.com/LAist

    Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live.This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

    • 22 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
1.2K Ratings

1.2K Ratings

d00dles4science ,

Mind blowing, one of my fave podcasts!

Excellent podcast, fantastic reporting! Lived all over CA my whole life and never knew about this or even knew it existed; thought I knew CA like the back of my hand. Thank you Emily for not only this great podcast but helping uncover the truth and helping those affected by what happened in CA City. Love how Emily intertwines her own vulnerability into this story, you can see how she truly cares about it. I have listened to this podcast story probably at least ten times! Would love it if we could please get some more updates on what’s been going on in California City, where are these people now, the Wasteland Weekend crowd, water shortage situation, etc. The story is so captivating it makes me want to visit someday.

ellemac ,

So interesting

Excellent reporting on a crazy story. I hope the water wastage is no longer happening

johnnyswmi ,

Terrible

This show perpetuates racism and hate and it’s gross. Sad they feel they have to do this to get listeners.

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