La Mesa, California
Amaya Drive Trolley Station
Amaya Drive Trolley Station
Flag of La Mesa, California
"Jewel of the Hills"[1]
Location of La Mesa in San Diego County, California
Location of La Mesa in San Diego County, California
La Mesa, California is located in the United States
La Mesa, California
La Mesa, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 32°46′17″N 117°1′22″W / 32.77139°N 117.02278°W / 32.77139; -117.02278
Country United States
State California
County San Diego
IncorporatedFebruary 16, 1912[2]
 • TypeCouncil / manager[3]
 • MayorMark Arapostathis[4]
 • Vice mayorLaura Lothian [4]
 • CouncilmemberJack Shu, Colin Parent, Patricia Dillard[4]
 • City TreasurerMatt Strabone[4]
 • Total9.10 sq mi (23.57 km2)
 • Land9.10 sq mi (23.56 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)  0.44%
Elevation528 ft (161 m)
 • Total61,121
 • Density6,514.46/sq mi (2,515.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code619
FIPS code06-40004
GNIS feature IDs1660859, 2411576

La Mesa (Spanish: La Mesa, lit.'The Table') is a city in San Diego County, located nine miles (14 kilometers) east of Downtown San Diego in Southern California. The population was 61,121 at the 2020 census, up from 57,065 at the 2010 census. Its civic motto is "the Jewel of the Hills."


Before European colonization, the area that is now La Mesa was home to the Kumeyaay. The Kumeyaay were a Yuman-speaking people who practiced horticulture and hunting and gathering. The Kumeyaay organized themselves into a federation of self-governed bands, or clans. Beginning in 1769, the Kumeyaay of La Mesa and the larger San Diego County region were enslaved by Spanish colonists or later forcibly relocated to reservations.[8]

La Mesa was originally part of Rancho El Cajón, a Mexican era rancho grant owned by the family of Don Miguel de Pedrorena, a Californio ranchero and signer of the Californian Constitution.

La Mesa in Spanish means "the table", or alternately "the plateau", relating to its geography.[9] La Mesa was part of a larger tract, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, and was used by Spanish missionaries.[10]

Through the years, the Spanish, Mexican, and American settlers valued La Mesa for its natural springs. In 1868, stockman Robert Allison moved to the area and purchased 4,000 acres of land from the heirs of Santiago Arguello, commandante of the Presidio of San Diego. This land became La Mesa, and the "Allison" natural springs were renamed the "La Mesa Springs."[11] The importance of the springs is still reflected today in the name of the prominent "Spring Street," which passes through downtown La Mesa, and with the preservation of the spring house in Collier Park.[12]

La Mesa was founded in 1869 and The City of La Mesa was incorporated on February 16, 1912.[13]

Its official flower is the bougainvillea.[1]

In 2020, La Mesa was the site of civil unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[14] Two days after Floyd's murder, an unarmed black man was grabbed and shoved by a white La Mesa Police officer and arrested at the Grossmont Trolley Station.[15] The video of the incident went viral and led to more than 1000 protesters converging on the city. An African-American grandmother was shot in the face with a bean bag round from police.[16] Businesses were looted and several structures were set on fire, including two banks that burned to the ground.[17][18] The officer in the trolley station incident was charged with falsifying a police report in connection with the reason for the arrest but acquitted in December 2021.[19]


La Mesa is bordered by the city of San Diego on the west and north, Spring Valley and Lemon Grove on the south, and El Cajon on the east. It includes the neighborhood of Grossmont.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.1 square miles (24 km2). 9.1 square miles (24 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.44%) is water.


La Mesa is approximately 10 mi (16 km) east of the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, La Mesa typically experiences more extreme temperatures than San Diego, most of which lies closer to the Pacific Ocean. La Mesa has a Semi-arid Steppe climate. La Mesa typically has hot, dry summers and warm winters with most of the annual precipitation falling between November and March. The city has dry weather with around 13 inches (330 millimeters) of annual precipitation. Summer temperatures are generally hot, with average highs of 78 °F–92 °F (26 °C–33 °C) and lows of 56 °F–68 °F (13 °C–20 °C). Winter temperatures are warm, with average high temperatures of 66 °F–77 °F (19 °C–25 °C) and lows of 46 °F–58 °F (8 °C–14 °C).

The climate in the San Diego area, like much of California, often varies significantly over short geographical distances, resulting in micro-climates. In San Diego's case, this is mainly due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons). Frequently, particularly during the "May gray/June gloom" period, a thick "marine layer" cloud cover will keep the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine approximately 5–10 miles (8–16 km) inland. This happens every year in May and June. Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas tend to experience higher temperatures than areas closer to the coast.

Climate data for La Mesa, California, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1934–2006
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 90
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 69.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 57.9
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 46.5
Record low °F (°C) 26
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.40
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.4 5.6 5.5 3.6 1.4 0.7 0.4 0.5 1.0 2.1 3.7 4.9 34.8
Source 1: NOAA[20]
Source 2: National Weather Service[21]


The City of La Mesa is served by the San Diego Trolley's Orange Line at its stations in Spring Street, La Mesa Boulevard, Grossmont Transit Center, and Amaya Drive, the last two of which are also served by the Green Line.

By car, the city is served by Interstate 8, California State Route 94, and California State Route 125.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[22]


At the 2010 census La Mesa had a population of 57,065. The population density was 6,259.6 inhabitants per square mile (2,416.8/km2). The racial makeup of La Mesa was 54.1% White, Hispanic or Latino of any race was 21.5%, 8.0% African American, 5.8% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.6% Pacific Islander, 11.6% from other races, and 5.8% from two or more races.[23]

The census reported that 56,408 people (98.8% of the population) lived in households, 124 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 533 (0.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 24,512 households, 6,695 (27.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 9,330 (38.1%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 3,102 (12.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,335 (5.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,731 (7.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 243 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 8,004 households (32.7%) were one person and 2,924 (11.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.30. There were 13,767 families (56.2% of households); the average family size was 2.94.

The age distribution was 11,164 people (19.6%) under the age of 18, 6,396 people (11.2%) aged 18 to 24, 16,792 people (29.4%) aged 25 to 44, 14,625 people (25.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 8,088 people (14.2%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 37.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.

There were 26,167 housing units at an average density of 2,870.3 per square mile, of the occupied units 11,221 (45.8%) were owner-occupied and 13,291 (54.2%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 7.2%. 26,713 people (46.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 29,695 people (52.0%) lived in rental housing units.


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At the 2000 census there were 54,749 people in 24,186 households, including 13,374 families, in the city. The population density was 5,909.9 inhabitants per square mile (2,281.8/km2). There were 24,943 housing units at an average density of 2,692.5 per square mile (1,039.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 51.0% White, 6.7% African American, 0.6% Native American, 5.5% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 9.5% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.6%.[24]

Of the 24,186 households 24.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.7% were non-families. 34.2% of households were one person and 12.9% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.86.

The age distribution was 19.8% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% 65 or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median household income was $41,693 and the median family income was $50,398. Males had a median income of $37,215 versus $30,413 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,372. About 5.2% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

Current estimates

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $45,156.

Arts and culture

Farmer's market

There is a farmer's market in La Mesa Village every Friday afternoon.[25]

Flag Day Parade

On June 14, 1997, with the help of Councilmember Ruth Sterling, the City of La Mesa inaugurated its First Annual Flag Day Parade.[26]

La Mesa Walkway of the Stars

The “Walkway of the Stars” is a pedestrian walkway that has been transformed into an urban park in downtown La Mesa. The vision for a place to recognize La Mesa's extraordinary volunteers was provided by Councilmember Ruth Sterling. The park's theme honors the city's outstanding volunteers who have provided 10,000 or more hours of service to the city of La Mesa. “Walkway of the Stars” is located between the Allison Avenue municipal parking lot and La Mesa Boulevard.[27]


At the beginning of each October, La Mesa holds its biggest event of the year, Oktoberfest, attended by approximately 200,000 people over the three nights of the event.[28]

Back to the 50s Car Show

The Back to the '50s Car Show is an annual summer event where classic car enthusiasts come to display their vehicles. The event is held every Thursday evening during the months of June through August in La Mesa Village along La Mesa Boulevard. Admission to the event is free.[29]

Sundays At Six

Sundays At Six is a free concert series that is offered every year in the months of June and July. For six Sundays, free concerts are performed in Harry Griffen Park from 6pm to 7pm. The concerts began in 2002 after being conceived by then-city councilman Mark Arapostathis and assistant city manager Yvonne Garrett along with members of the community. They are organized by the La Mesa Arts Alliance and sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County Foundation.[30]

Other events

Other annual events include Christmas in the Village,[31] Trick-or-Treating in La Mesa Village,[32] and the raising of the Pride flag at La Mesa City Hall to mark Pride Month each June.[33]

Grossmont Center

The city's major mall, Grossmont Center, opened by the Cushman Family in 1961.[34] In 2021, Grossmont Center was purchased from the Cushman Family by Federal Realty Trust, which valued the shopping center at $175 Million and plans to redevelop and modernize the 925,000 square-foot property.[35]

Alternative media

The original offices of The San Diego Door, a popular underground newspaper of the 1960s, were located in La Mesa at 7053 University Avenue.


City government

La Mesa is a general law city which uses a council-manager system of government with a directly elected mayor. The city council consists of a mayor and four councilmembers, all of whom are elected from the city at large and serve four-year terms. The council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.[3] The current mayor is Mark Arapostathis, who was re-elected in 2018.[36]

State and federal representation

In the California State Legislature, La Mesa is in the 38th Senate District, represented by Democrat Catherine Blakespear, and in the 79th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Akilah Weber.[37]

In the United States House of Representatives, La Mesa is in California's 51st congressional district, represented by Democrat Sara Jacobs.[38]


The schools in La Mesa are operated by two districts. The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District operates most of the elementary and middle schools in the city, while the Grossmont Union High School District operates Helix High School and the Gateway day schools.

Elementary schools

Middle/junior high schools

High schools


Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "La Mesa Fast Facts". City of La Mesa California. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "City Council". La Mesa, CA. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Lothian squeaks to victory in razor-thin La Mesa race". San Diego Union-Tribune. December 9, 2022. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  5. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  6. ^ "La Mesa". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  7. ^ "La Mesa (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  8. ^ Pico, Anthony. "The Kumeyaay Millenium". Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  9. ^ "Profile for La Mesa, California, CA". ePodunk. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  10. ^ "City of La Mesa history". Archived from the original on July 6, 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "History of La Mesa Summary". La Mesa History Center. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  12. ^ "1907 Collier Park Spring House". Save Our Heritage Organization. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  13. ^ "La Mesa Fast Facts | La Mesa, CA - Official Website". Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  14. ^ Pura, Anthony (May 30, 2020). "Protest erupts outside La Mesa police station". KGTV. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  15. ^ Hernandez, David (June 4, 2020). "La Mesa police release body-cam video of controversial arrest". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  16. ^ Charles, Niala. "Grandmother Hit in Head With LMPD 'Less Lethal' Projectile Remains in ICU". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  17. ^ "Banks Ablaze, Stores Looted Amid Unrest in La Mesa". NBC 7 San Diego. May 30, 2020. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  18. ^ "Man sentenced to 16 months in prison for role in La Mesa Chase bank fire". ABC 10 News San Diego KGTV. City News Service. April 5, 2022. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  19. ^ Alvarado, Kitty; Castillo, Carlos (December 10, 2021). "Ex-La Mesa police officer acquitted of falsifying police report". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: La Mesa, CA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  21. ^ "NOAA Online Weather Data – NWS San Diego". National Weather Service. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  23. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - La Mesa city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  25. ^ "La Mesa, CA - Official Website - Farmer's Marke". Cityoflamesca.comt. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  26. ^ "Ruth Sterling". City of La Mesa. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  27. ^ "Walkway of the Stars | La Mesa, CA - Official Website". Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  28. ^ "La Mesa Oktoberfest". Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  29. ^ "La Mesa Car Show". April 22, 2019.
  30. ^ Pearlman, Karen (May 17, 2013). "Free Sunday concerts in La Mesa on their way". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  31. ^ "Holiday in the Village: A La Mesa Tradition". Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  32. ^ "Trick-or-Treating in La Mesa Village". Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  33. ^ Thomas, Dave (June 23, 2022). "La Mesa is more than welcoming to the LGBTQ+ Community". SD News. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  34. ^ Engstrand, Iris Wilson (2005). San Diego: California's Cornerstone. Sunbelt Publications. p. 172. ISBN 9780932653727.
  35. ^ "Grossmont Center Sold". San Diego Business Journal. August 13, 2021. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  36. ^ "La Mesa will keep its mayor, but 2 City Council seats are being challenged". San Diego Union-Tribune. October 26, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  37. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  38. ^ "California's 53rd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  39. ^ Peterson, Karla (August 14, 2020). "San Diego filmmaker brings the apocalypse to the Oceanside International Film Festival". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  40. ^ Alice, Matthew (July 5, 2001). "Is Dennis Hopper from La Mesa? | San Diego Reader". Retrieved October 13, 2021.
  41. ^ "Jason Phillips Stats, Fantasy & News". Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  42. ^ "Whitney Shay Interview". Retrieved February 22, 2021.