Mendocino County, California

Mendocino County is a county located on the north coast of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 87,841.[4] The county seat is Ukiah.[5]

Mendocino County, California
County of Mendocino
Images, from top down, left to right: The community of Mendocino, the historic Grace Hudson Sun House, Point Arena Lighthouse, the Chandelier Tree, the "Skunk Train", A beach in MacKerricher State Park

County shown in green with markers for each of its four incorporated cities
Mendocino County's location within California
Coordinates (Geographic center of Mendocino County): 39.4692°N 123.3942°W / 39.4692; -123.3942
Country United States
State California
RegionCalifornia North Coast
IncorporatedFebruary 18, 1850 (1850-02-18)[1]
Named forAntonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of New Spain, 1535–42
County seatUkiah
Largest cityUkiah
  BodyMendocino County Board of Supervisors
  Total3,878 sq mi (10,040 km2)
  Land3,506 sq mi (9,080 km2)
  Water372 sq mi (960 km2)
Highest elevation6,958 ft (2,121 m)
  Density25/sq mi (10/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
  Summer (DST)UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code707

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.[6]

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.[7]

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 County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Due to an initially minor white American population, it did not have a separate government until 1859 and was under the administration of Sonoma County prior to that.[8] Some of the county's land was given to Sonoma County between 1850 and 1860.[9]

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),[10] or Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza, Viceroy from 1580 to 1583. Mendocino is the adjectival form of the family name of Mendoza.[8]

Neither Spanish nor Mexican influence extended into Mendocino County beyond establishing 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.[8][10]

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 in 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.[11] Many of these tribes thrown together were not friends 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.[12]

Adjacent counties



National and state protected areas

Flora and fauna



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Est. 201887,606[3]−0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
1790–1960[21] 1900–1990[22]
1990–2000[23] 2010–2015[4]

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%).[24]


As of the census[25] 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 2018, the district attorney of Mendocino County is C. David Eyster,[26] the elected sheriff-coroner is Thomas D. Allman,[27] and the chief executive officer is Carmel J. Angelo.[28]

Mendocino County is legislatively governed by a board of five supervisors, each with a separate district.[29] The first district is represented by Carre Brown,[30] and serves the central-eastern region of the county, including Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Talmage. The second district, represented by John McCowen,[30] serves Ukiah. The third district, in the northeastern quadrant of the county from Willits north to Laytonville and Covelo, is represented by John Haschak.[31] The fourth district covers the northwestern quadrant of the county, including the coast from Caspar northwards through Fort Bragg; its supervisor is Dan Gjerde,[30] who previously served on the Fort Bragg City Council. The supervisor for the fifth district is Ted Williams;[31] 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.


Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


Mendocino is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections.[33] 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 compared to other Democratic candidates before her (though support for third-party candidates more than doubled from 2012).

Presidential elections results
Mendocino County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP Dem Others
2016 28.72% 10,888 58.23% 22,079 13.05% 4,948
2012 27.49% 9,658 66.01% 23,193 6.51% 2,286
2008 26.68% 10,721 69.29% 27,843 4.03% 1,620
2004 33.71% 12,955 63.45% 24,385 2.83% 1,089
2000 35.66% 12,272 48.34% 16,634 16.00% 5,504
1996 29.87% 9,765 45.74% 14,952 24.39% 7,975
1992 21.78% 7,958 50.21% 18,344 28.01% 10,236
1988 41.94% 12,979 55.42% 17,152 2.64% 816
1984 52.09% 16,369 45.85% 14,407 2.06% 646
1980 44.05% 12,432 38.21% 10,784 17.74% 5,008
1976 45.49% 9,784 49.53% 10,653 4.98% 1,072
1972 51.01% 11,128 43.25% 9,435 5.73% 1,251
1968 46.39% 8,305 44.32% 7,935 9.29% 1,664
1964 34.68% 6,322 65.12% 11,869 0.20% 36
1960 49.29% 9,301 50.21% 9,476 0.50% 94
1956 56.94% 10,327 42.82% 7,767 0.24% 43
1952 60.87% 10,897 38.06% 6,813 1.07% 191
1948 50.53% 6,368 44.06% 5,553 5.41% 682
1944 45.89% 4,655 53.75% 5,452 0.35% 36
1940 42.53% 5,345 56.13% 7,055 1.34% 169
1936 35.75% 3,670 62.65% 6,432 1.60% 164
1932 35.23% 3,365 61.43% 5,867 3.34% 319
1928 63.39% 4,810 34.63% 2,628 1.98% 150
1924 56.46% 3,465 12.04% 739 31.50% 1,933
1920 65.83% 4,443 26.51% 1,789 7.66% 517
1916 46.79% 3,494 45.14% 3,371 8.07% 603
1912 0.19% 11 44.39% 2,507 55.42% 3,130
1908 55.56% 2,746 35.45% 1,752 8.98% 444
1904 61.55% 2,904 31.56% 1,489 6.89% 325
1900 53.15% 2,192 45.13% 1,861 1.72% 71
1896 48.92% 2,093 49.56% 2,120 1.52% 65
1892 41.87% 1,709 49.56% 2,023 8.57% 350

Federally, Mendocino County is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.[35]

In the state legislature Mendocino is in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Mike McGuire,[36] and the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Wood.[37]

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.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40][41] 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.[42]

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.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates


The county is served by local and regional newspapers as well as a community radio stations. Among the community radio station are 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,[49] and The Laytonville Observer, the Anderson Valley Advertiser,[50] the Willits Weekly[51] 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 nation wide tactics of DFM.[52] The Sonoma County based Press Democrat also covers the area.


Community colleges



Major highways

Public transportation


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.[53]

The historic Skunk Train is a heritage railway that connects Fort Bragg, California with Willits using steam locomotives.


  • Ukiah Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport owned by the City of Ukiah. It is located south of downtown Ukiah.
  • Little River Airport is a general aviation airport serving the Mendocino coast.
  • Willits Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport serving the Willits / Little Lake Valley area. Located in the Brooktrails subdivision area west of Willits.
  • Round Valley Airport is a general aviation airport serving the Covelo / Round Valley area.

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.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Indian reservations

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).

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Mendocino County.[54]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)

1 Ukiah City 16,075
2 Fort Bragg City 7,273
3 Willits City 4,888
4 Brooktrails CDP 3,235
5 Redwood Valley CDP 1,729
6 Covelo CDP 1,255
7 Laytonville CDP 1,227
8 Talmage CDP 1,130
9 Boonville CDP 1,035
10 Mendocino CDP 894
11 Hopland CDP 756
12 Calpella CDP 679
13 Potter Valley CDP 646
14 Cleone CDP 618
15 Caspar CDP 509
16 Point Arena City 449
17 Round Valley Reservation[55] (partially in Trinity County) AIAN 401
18 Philo CDP 349
19 Anchor Bay CDP 340
20 Redwood Valley Rancheria[56] AIAN 238
t-21 Laytonville Rancheria[57] AIAN 212
t-21 Manchester-Point Arena Rancheria[58] AIAN 212
22 Manchester CDP 195
t-23 Albion CDP 168
t-23 Sherwood Valley Rancheria[59] AIAN 168
24 Comptche CDP 159
25 Coyote Valley Reservation[60] AIAN 144
26 Pinoleville Rancheria[61] AIAN 129
27 Leggett CDP 122
28 Little River CDP 117
29 Guidiville Rancheria[62] AIAN 52
30 Hopland Rancheria (Pomo Indians)[63] 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.

See also


  1. Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. "Chronology". California State Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
  2. "Anthony Peak". Archived from the original on 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
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Further reading

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