Mendocino County, California
|County of Mendocino|
|Coordinates (Geographic center of Mendocino County): Coordinates:|
|Region||California North Coast|
|Incorporated||February 18, 1850|
|Named for||Antonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of New Spain, 1535–42|
|• Body||Mendocino County Board of Supervisors|
|• Total||3,878 sq mi (10,040 km2)|
|• Land||3,506 sq mi (9,080 km2)|
|• Water||372 sq mi (960 km2)|
|Highest elevation||6,958 ft (2,121 m)|
|• Density||26/sq mi (10/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)|
Mendocino County (/ /(listen); Mendocino, Spanish for "of Mendoza) is a county located on the North Coast of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 91,601. The county seat is Ukiah.
Mendocino County consists wholly of the Ukiah, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA) for the purposes of the U.S. Census Bureau. It is located approximately equidistant from the San Francisco Bay Area and California/Oregon border, separated from the Sacramento Valley to the east by the California Coast Ranges. While smaller areas of redwood forest are found further south, it is the southernmost California county to be included in the World Wildlife Fund's Pacific temperate rainforests ecoregion, the largest temperate rainforest ecoregion on the planet.
The county is noted for its distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, its location along California's "Lost Coast", Redwood forests, wine production, microbrews, and liberal views about the use of cannabis and support for its legalization. In 2009, it was estimated that roughly one-third of the economy was based on the cultivation of marijuana.
The notable historic and recreational attraction of the "Skunk Train" connects Fort Bragg with Willits in Mendocino County via a steam-locomotive engine, along with other vehicles.
Mendocino is one of three Northern California counties to make up the "Emerald Triangle", along with Humboldt and Trinity counties.
Mendocino County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Due to an initially minor settler American population, it did not have a separate government until 1859 and was under the administration of Sonoma County prior to that. Some of the county's land was given to Sonoma County between 1850 and 1860.
The county derives its name from Cape Mendocino (most of which is actually located in adjacent Humboldt County), which was probably named in honor of either Antonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of New Spain, 1535–1542 (who sent the Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo Expedition to this coast in 1542), or Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza, Viceroy from 1580 to 1583. Mendocino is the adjectival form of the family name of Mendoza.
Neither Spanish nor Mexican influence extended into Mendocino County beyond the establishment of two Mexican land grants in southern Mendocino County: Rancho Sanel in Hopland, in 1844 and Rancho Yokaya that forms the majority of the Ukiah Valley, in 1845.
In the 19th century, despite the establishment of the Mendocino Indian Reservation and Nome Cult Farm in 1856, the county witnessed many of the most serious atrocities in the extermination of the Californian Native American tribes who originally lived in the area, like the Yuki, the Pomo, the Cahto, and the Wintun. The systematic occupation of their lands, the reduction of many of their members into slavery and the raids against their settlements led to the Mendocino War in 1859, where hundreds of Indians were killed. Establishment of the Round Valley Indian Reservation on March 30, 1870, did not prevent the segregation that continued well into the 20th century. Other tribes from the Sierra Nevada mountains were also relocated to the Round Valley Indian Reservation during the "California Trail Of Tears", where the Natives were forced to march in bad conditions to their new home in Round Valley. Many of these tribes thrown together were not on good terms with the other tribes they were forced to live with on the reservation, resulting in tensions still evident today.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,878 square miles (10,040 km2), of which 3,506 square miles (9,080 km2) is land and 372 square miles (960 km2) (9.6%) is water.
Main article: List of species endemic to Mendocino County, California
|U.S. Decennial Census
1990–2000 2010 2020
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||60,249||56,205||68.59%||61.36%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||544||607||0.62%||0.66%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||3,486||3,528||3.97%||3.85%|
|Asian alone (NH)||1,402||1,730||1.60%||1.89%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||92||110||0.10%||0.12%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||131||592||0.15%||0.65%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||2,432||4,896||2.77%||5.34%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||19,505||23,933||22.20%||26.13%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
|Population, race, and income|
|Black or African American||949||1.1%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||4,273||4.9%|
|Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander||202||0.2%|
|Some other race||5,127||5.9%|
|Two or more races||2,824||3.2%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||18,964||21.7%|
|Per capita income||$23,585|
|Median household income||$44,527|
|Median family income||$54,083|
|Places by population and race|
|Asian||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|Places by population and income|
|Place||Type||Population||Per capita income||Median household income||Median family income|
The 2010 United States Census reported that Mendocino County had a population of 87,841. The racial makeup of Mendocino County was 67,218 (76.5%) White, 622 (0.7%) African American, 4,277 (4.9%) Native American, 1,450 (1.7%) Asian, 119 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 10,185 (11.6%) from other races, and 3,970 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19,505 persons (22.2%).
|Population reported at 2010 United States Census|
(of any race)
(of any race)
(of any race)
(of any race)
|All others not CDPs (combined)||48,881||38,588||301||2,492||541||57||4,851||2,051||9,605|
As of the census of 2000, there were 86,265 people, 33,266 households, and 21,855 families residing in the county. The population density was 25 people per square mile (9/km2). There were 36,937 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 80.8% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 4.8% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 8.6% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. 16.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 12.2% were of German, 10.8% English, 8.6% Irish, 6.1% Italian and 5.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 84.4% spoke English and 13.2% Spanish as their first language.
There were 33,266 households, out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.5% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 27.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.1 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,996, and the median income for a family was $42,168. Males had a median income of $33,128 versus $23,774 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,443. About 10.9% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2022, the District Attorney of Mendocino County is C. David Eyster, the elected Sheriff-Coroner is Matthew C. Kendall  and the Interim Chief Executive Officer is Darcie Antle.
Mendocino County is legislatively governed by a board of five supervisors, each with a separate district. The first district is represented by Glenn McGourty, and serves the central-eastern region of the county, including Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Talmage. The second district, represented by Maureen Mulheren, serves Ukiah. The third district, in the northeastern quadrant of the county from Willits north to Laytonville and Covelo, is represented by John Haschak. The fourth district covers the northwestern quadrant of the county, including the coast from Caspar northwards through Fort Bragg; its supervisor is Dan Gjerde, who previously served on the Fort Bragg City Council. The supervisor for the fifth district is Ted Williams; his district covers the southern portion of the county, including the coast from Mendocino to Gualala, the Anderson Valley, the western outskirts of Ukiah, and portions of the Russian River valley near Hopland.
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 3]||48,993||56.0%|
|Peace and Freedom||281||0.6%|
|No party preference||11,175||22.8%|
|Cities by population and voter registration|
|Democratic||Republican||D–R spread||Other||No party preference|
Mendocino is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. However, in the 2016 election, Mendocino County gave Hillary Clinton a reduced margin of victory of any Democratic since Al Gore (though support for third-party candidates more than doubled from 2012). In 2020 the county was won by Joe Biden with an increased margin of victory from the previous election.
Federally, Mendocino County is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.
In the state legislature Mendocino is in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Mike McGuire, and the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Wood.
As of April 2008, the California Secretary of State reports that Mendocino County has 47,168 registered voters. Of those, 22,264 (47.2%) are registered Democratic; 11,422 (24.2%) are registered Republican; 4,179 (8.9%) are registered with other political parties, and 9,303 (19.7%) declined to state a political party.
In 2000, Mendocino County voters approved Measure G, which calls for the decriminalization of marijuana when used and cultivated for personal use. Measure G passed with a 58% majority vote, making it the first county in the United States to declare prosecution of small-scale marijuana offenses the "lowest priority" for local law enforcement. Measure G does not protect individuals who cultivate, transport or possess marijuana for sale. However, Measure G was passed at the local government level affecting only Mendocino County, and therefore does not affect existing state or federal laws. The city of Berkeley has had a similar law (known as the Berkeley Marijuana Initiative II) since 1979 which has generally been found to be unenforceable.
In 2008, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors placed Measure B on the June 3 county-wide ballot. After three months of hard-fought campaigning and national attention, voters narrowly approved "B", which repealed the provisions of 2000's Measure G. However, opponents of Measure B intend to continue the challenge in court, as the wording of Measure B relies heavily on S.B. 420's state limitations which were recently ruled unconstitutional by the California supreme court. On July 3, the Sheriff and District Attorneys offices announced that they would not be enforcing the new regulations for the time being, citing pending legal challenges and conflicts with existing state law.
In April, 2009, Sheriff Tom Allman issued his department's medical marijuana enforcement policy, which includes the provisions of Measure B and also cites the California Supreme Court Ruling narrowly defining "caregiver" in the state's medical marijuana law.
In 2004, Measure H was passed in Mendocino County with a 56% majority, making it the first county in the United States to ban the production and cultivation of genetically modified organisms.
On Nov. 4, 2008, Mendocino County voted 63.1% against Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||99||1.13|
|Cities by population and crime rates|
|City||Population||Violent crimes||Violent crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|Property crimes||Property crime rate|
per 1,000 persons
A coroner's jury ruled that the 2018 Hart family crash in Mendocino County was deliberate.
Mendocino County is considered part of the San Francisco Bay Area television market, and primarily receives the major Bay Area TV stations.
The county is also served by local and regional newspapers as well as a community radio stations. Community radio stations include KZYX, operating out of Philo, and KLLG, operating out of the Little Lake Grange in Willits. The Humboldt County-based KMUD is also receivable in large parts of the county. Local independent newspapers include the online news service The Mendocino Voice, and The Laytonville Observer, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the Willits Weekly and the Independent Coast Observer. Four formerly independent newspapers are now owned by the national conglomerate media company Digital First Media, they are: The Ukiah Daily Journal, The Mendocino Beacon, the Willits News, and The Fort Bragg Advocate. These four papers have seen a precipitous decline in the size of editorial staff and in coverage over the past several years, in keeping with the nationwide tactics of DFM. The Sonoma County-based Press Democrat also covers the area.
The Mendocino Transit Authority provides local and intercity bus service within Mendocino County. Limited service also connects with transit in Sonoma County. Greyhound Bus Lines currently serves Ukiah.
Amtrak's operates connecting bus service to Ukiah, Willits and Laytonville.
The historic Skunk Train is a heritage railway that connects Fort Bragg, California with Willits using steam locomotives.
For commercial service, passengers in Mendocino County need to go to Eureka, one county to the north in Humboldt County, or to Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, one county to the south. More comprehensive service is available from Sacramento to the east or San Francisco, well to the south.
Emergency services for the largely unincorporated county are coordinated through Howard Forest Station, a local Cal Fire station just south of Willits.
Mendocino County has nine Indian reservations lying within its borders, the fourth most of any county in the United States (after San Diego County, California; Sandoval County, New Mexico; and Riverside County, California).
The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Mendocino County.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|17||Round Valley Reservation (partially in Trinity County)||AIAN||401|
|20||Redwood Valley Rancheria||AIAN||238|
|t-21||Manchester-Point Arena Rancheria||AIAN||212|
|t-23||Sherwood Valley Rancheria||AIAN||168|
|25||Coyote Valley Reservation||AIAN||144|
|30||Hopland Rancheria (Pomo Indians)||AIAN||38|
"Mendocino" by The Sir Douglas Quintet was released in December 1968 and reached No. 27 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 by early 1969, spending 15 weeks in the chart.
Kate McGarrigle's song "(Talk to Me of) Mendocino," is one of the songs on the McGarrigles' 1975 debut album; it has been covered by Linda Ronstadt on her 1982 album Get Closer, and by the English singer-songwriter John Howard on his 2007 E.P., and also by Bette Midler on her 2014 album It's The Girls.
A song written by Matt Serletic and Bernie Taupin, "Mendocino County Line" which was released in 2002, is about a love that could not last and cites the 'Mendocino County Line' in the chorus.
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