Three Kern County cities were listed among the top 50 worst places to live in America by USA Today.
Through a partner news organization, 24/7 Wall Street, the newspaper ranked Arvin, Taft and California City as being some of the most violent, poor and jobless parts of the country.
Arvin ranked 47th, while Taft came in at 42nd, and California City landed in third place on a list where no city ever wants to find itself.
California City Mayor Chuck McGuire disputed the findings of 24/7 Wall Street, and said the organization had used numbers that were two years out of date.
If they had used more recent numbers, the results would have been different, McGuire said.
"I truly doubt that Samuel Stebbins and Grant Suneson, of 24/7 Wall Street, have ever stepped one foot into our community of California City," McGuire said in an emailed statement, referring to the authors of the story. "If they had, they probably would have gotten lost in our vast 203.6 square miles which includes beautiful desert areas that our out-of-town and local off-roaders call fun, and the great people of this community call home."
The Central Valley faired especially poorly on the list, with eight cities making the list of 50, including the number one spot, Mendota in Fresno County.
To come up with the list, 24/7 Wall Street measured 25 indices broken into four broad categories: affordability, economy, quality of life and community.
From cost of living to the number of hospitalizations that could have been prevented by regular visits to a doctor, 24/7 Wall Street measured as much as it could to come up with what it presented as an all-encompassing view of American cities.
The online publication described California City residents as “some of the most likely to be unemployed” in the country.
With an average unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, 24/7 Wall Street said California City had a 29.9 percent poverty rate, more than double that of the U.S. average.
Arvin and Taft did not fare much better.
24/7 Wall Street pointed out that “Arvin does not have much to offer in the way of cultural or entertainment options,” and it noted that the city is one of the most dangerous places to live in the Bakersfield metro area, with 1,071 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents.
And although Taft had a lower poverty rate than California City, at 24.1 percent, it still had a rate higher than three quarters of all other cities in the United States.
Taft also has a problem with violent crime, the publication said, and lower property values when compared to the rest of California.
“The area’s high violent crime rate may be suppressing property values,” 24/7 Wall Street said in its report.
Outside of Kern County, other cities in the Central Valley also made the list, including Orange Cove in Tulare County, Firebaugh in Fresno County and Corcoran and Avenal in Kings County.
Places with fewer than 8,000 residents were not included in the list.