California : Safety by City
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Compton, California, is centrally located in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area.
It has easy access to major highways, airports, and tourist destinations.
For all those reasons, it’s known as the “Hub City”.
We’ll get right in front of the elephant in the room.
Compton has a history of violence and gang wars.
It has been rated as one of the most dangerous cities in America in the past.
It’s a working-class or lower-class community that is ethnically diverse.
Compton is also home to some of the most prominent musical artists of the past few decades, starting with the NWA album “Straight Outta Compton” that rapped about life on the streets of the city.
A resurgence of interest in Compton happened in 2015 when the autobiographical movie “Straight Outta Compton” hit movie theaters, grossing more than $200 million.
Compton has not had its police force since 2000 when the department was disbanded by the city council.
This was due to high crime and homicide rates.
It is now under the enforcement of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
There are several great reasons to visit Compton and some clear lines of why you shouldn’t go there.
Warnings & Dangers in Compton
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
The overall risk depends on why you are going to Compton and what you are doing while you are there. There's a medium risk during the day, fueled by inherent high crime rates, and high risk if you just find yourself wandering around Compton at night (which you should not do!).
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk on public transportation. The city offers its own Compton Renaissance bus service, and the blue line of the Metro goes through here. There are taxi service and rideshare options. While local crime data shows violent and property crimes were both down in 2021, there's still a long way to go before sitting at the bus stop makes a tourist feel safe.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Compton is a place you don't need to be unless you have a legitimate reason to be there. There's a medium to high risk of being pickpocketed if you are wandering around a part of town just for the heck of it, especially at night. There's a brazen attitude in this city that won't stop criminals just because you look like a nice person. Don't put yourself in a position to be a mark.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Earthquakes and wildfires are the biggest national disaster risks here, but there's low risk on an average day of having severe weather that cripples your trip. The weather is mild year-round. There's rarely a rainy day and never a snowy day.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium to high risk. The violent crime rate here is among the top 15 in the nation and triple the national average.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Los Angeles, being the second-largest metro area in the country, will always be a hard target for terrorists, so there's a medium risk here. Compton itself isn't a target, but nearby Disneyland and Hollywood could be.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a city of hustle, and scammers could be waiting to take advantage of a curious tourist, so we'll give this a medium risk. Common sense prevails and keeps belongings close to you.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women have a medium to high risk when visiting Compton. That aggravated assault rate might be down, but the criminal homicide rate was up 66%. That's enough for any gender to think twice about venturing to Compton without good reasons.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in the tap water of Compton, California. While no current health issues exist with the water, in the past, one water district got a lot of attention for putting out putrid, murky water through the tap. That issue has been fixed. Another concern with tap water is that even if the water is clean from the treatment plant, it can get contained through old or poorly maintained pipes. You might want to bring bottled water with you to Compton, just to be safe, if not overly cautious.
Safest Places to Visit in Compton
Of all the tourist attractions in the Los Angeles area, Compton is not a big tourist draw.
There are no theme parks, beaches, or celebrities on every corner.
That said, there is an effort in the underserved city to motivate the youth.
There’s an aeronautical museum at Compton Airport.
This is where children and adults can come to learn about flying, even taking a seat in a Top Gun flight simulator.
You won’t find the restaurant row or shopping areas or even a grocery store in Compton.
It’s known as a “food desert”, a label given by the USDA, which means there’s not easy access to affordable and healthy food.
This has spawned a “micro-farm” trend in Compton, where people farm in front yards and share with the community.
Moonwater Farm has risen to the challenge and offers a way to learn about farming and sustainability.
They host a farm camp each summer for kids.
Field trips are available but must be scheduled ahead of time.
Places to Avoid in Compton
We’ll save you from searching all the social forums—you’ll want to avoid any part of Compton at night unless you are visiting friends and family who live there.
Over and over again, the same message is said.
If you don’t have a reason to go there, and there isn’t a great wealth of activities, to begin with, don’t go there.
With so many rap artists calling Compton home, like Dr. Dre (and the whole NWA group back in the ’80s/’90s), Kendrick Lamar, and The Game, people go to Compton to do nothing else but to see Compton.
Some stop to take photos in front of the “Welcome to Compton” sign for social media posts.
One Compton local made his stance known on Twitter, saying, “Stop visiting Compton like it’s some attraction.
My struggle is not your aesthetic.”
You should respect that this is an underserved community, struggling financially and criminally, and making every effort to better itself from its sordid history.
It’s not a photo-op.
It’s a real-life working-class town trying to make it against all odds.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Compton
- Don’t go there at night. We’re going to say that a lot in this article because it bears repeating. This is a dangerous neighborhood and tourists can stand out like a sore thumb. Don’t be a target just based on curiosity.
- Lock your car and hide your stuff in the trunk. Leave nothing in the car in plain sight. The grand theft auto rate in Compton was up 34% in 2021. If your car gets stolen, there’s a good chance you’ll never see it again in one piece.
- Keep your car doors locked even when driving around, just to be safe. A distracted tourist looking around while slowly driving down a street could draw unwanted attention.
- Eat ahead of time. There isn’t a big restaurant scene in this town, just a handful of fast food places. Shopping is limited as well.
- If you insist on visiting Compton because you want to see where your favorite rap artist grew up, consider taking a formal tour of the area. Yes, there are tours. One company called LA Hood Life Tour offers several tours a day but doesn’t go into great detail about what exactly you’ll see.
- While there’s no formal declaration of this anywhere, there is advice not to wear all red or dark blue when visiting Compton as those are defining gang colors. A lot would go into that perception, like race, gender, age, and ethnicity, but I just wanted to put it out there as a consideration.
- There are more than 400 homeless people who live in Compton and social media reports say panhandlers can get aggressive at times. Just ignore them and don’t engage in conversation. If you want to donate, choose a local organization that helps the homeless get back on their feet.
- It rains about 32 days of the year in Compton, much less than the national average, but if it happens to rain while you are there, be prepared for bad (er.. worse?) drivers everywhere. Californians get a bad reputation for only being able to drive well in clear skies. California traffic is a phenomenon all its own, but add in rain? You might want to just hang out at the hotel until the rain stops.
- Check the air quality before you head out. The EPA says the wildfire risk in California is only growing due to climate change. A fire nearby can ruin air quality and at times make it difficult to even breathe. Blowing smoke can also shut down already packed freeways.
- Wildfires and/or heat waves can lead to rolling blackouts in various communities across Southern California. You might get little to no notice that a blackout is happening, so always keep water with you and have a backup plan of where you’ll go in the event of a power outage.
So... How Safe Is Compton Really?
It’s not safe.
Nobody in their right mind would say it is safe.
Law enforcement and city leaders are trying, however, and crime rates are going down based on the past year’s data provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
There’s a community spirit thereof helping each other, supporting holiday food drives, and neighbors doing what they can to get through day-to-day life.
There’s no reason to go to Compton unless you have relatives there who can show you around and guide your travels.
Despite the entertainment value of its name, the songs about Compton were based on real-life stories of struggling with guns, drugs, and violence.
There is a deep history in Compton that is fascinating to learn about, and during the day the average tourist isn’t in imminent danger.
Again to emphasize, don’t walk around Compton haphazardly at night.
Gang activity is still present and violence happens hourly.
There are just more touristy places to visit nearby.
How Does Compton Compare?
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- Visas - People entering the United States at one of the many airports in the LA area will take care of visa stuff there. No additional documents are needed.
- Currency - American currency is used at all Compton locations. It's best not to carry around large amounts of cash while there due to the crime rates.
- Weather - Compton has one of the most pleasant weather environments year-round. Temperatures average in the 70's with lows that can get down into the 40's (and if you are there when it gets this cold, you'll see Californians dressed like it's -40°, which is great people watching.) Only 30 days of rain are reported on average. Pack a jacket just in case, but you should be comfy in khakis and a shirt.
- Airports - There are six commercial airports in the Los Angeles metro area. Long Beach Airport is the closest to Compton, just 11 miles away. Los Angeles International Airport, known as LAX, is 15 miles away but through a pretty gnarly traffic corridor, so give yourself plenty of time. John Wayne Airport in Orange County is 33 miles southeast. Hollywood Burbank Airport is a hike 30 miles north up a busy freeway. Ontario International Airport is 45 miles due east. There's also San Bernardino Airport, but that's 68 miles east.
- Travel Insurance - You want travel insurance to make sure you get everything you want on a trip to Compton, California, even if there are delays or cancellations.
Compton Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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