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New LAist Podcast Explores False Promises In California City

KPCC's LAist Studios
KPCC's LAist Studios released the 8-episode podcast series "California City" in June. The show explains how the city's creator sold land by promising wealth, and how that practice continues today.

In the southeast corner of Kern County is the Mojave Desert. In that dry landscape there’s a city that looks half built.

Credit Smith & Williams records, Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara
The creator of California City, Nat Mendelsohn, envisioned a sprawling community. By area, it's the third largest city in the state.

There are roads and some houses, but it seems unfinished. That city’s past and present are investigated in a new podcast from KPCC’s LAist Studios, called California City. 

Host and reporter Emily Guerin spoke to Valley Public Radio about the podcast and some of what she found. Listen to the interview above to hear Guerin talk about her reporting, what it was like to briefly live in California City, and how even though the real estate practices are suspicious, few have been able to investigate why. 

Credit Chava Sanchez / KPCC
California City appears half built, says host and reporter Emily Guerin. There are roads, but not as many houses. Those who do buy land here soon find it's not worth much, and it's nearly impossible to get their money back.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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