Salton City is a census-designated place (CDP) in Imperial County, California. The population was 3,763 at the 2010 census, up from 978 in 2000. It is the largest Imperial County development on the Salton coast. It is part of the El Centro, California Metropolitan Statistical Area. Although maps at first view show Salton City to be a sizable community, very few of the surveyed streets and roads were ever developed.
The town was developed in the 1950s and established in 1958 primarily by M. Penn Phillips and the Holly Sugar Corporation as a resort community on the Salton Sea, a saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, yet very little development was achieved due to its isolation and lack of local employment opportunities.
In the 1970s, most of the buildings constructed along the shoreline, including the city's marina were abandoned due to rising sea elevation. In the 1980s, the Imperial Irrigation District took proactive water conservation measures to reduce the flow of unused canal water into the Salton Sea. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as salinity and suspected pollution levels in the Salton Sea increased, the attraction of the Salton Sea as a recreational destination diminished. Most of the original tourist related structures fell during this time, including the Truckhaven Cafe, the Salton Bay Yacht Club hotel and restaurant, and the Holly House motel and restaurant (later renamed Desser House and then the Sundowner).
In the 2000s, development in Salton City began to rise as a result of the escalating California housing market. Cheap land and housing costs, improvements to Highway 86, and a casino opened by Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians attracted new residents