La Mesa is a city in San Diego County, California, United States. The population was 54,749 at the 2000 census. It was founded in 1869 and officially incorporated as a city on February 16, 1912. It is the hometown of NBA player Bill Walton, football stars Reggie Bush, and Alex Smith, famous actor Dennis Hopper, singer of rock band Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder, and the birthplace of heavy metal musician Dave Mustaine. Its official flower is the bougainvillea. At the beginning of each October, La Mesa holds their biggest event of the year, Oktoberfest.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.1 km² (9.3 mi²). 24.0 km² (9.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (0.32%) is water. La Mesa in Spanish means "the table", or alternately "the plateau", relating to its geography. La Mesa was part of a larger tract, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, and used by Spanish Missionaries.
As of the census of 2000, there were 54,749 people, 24,186 households, and 13,374 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,282.8/km² (5,909.9/mi²). There were 24,943 housing units at an average density of 1,040.0/km² (2,692.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.64% White, 4.86% African American, 0.66% Native American, 4.09% Asian, 0.40% Pacific Islander, 5.08% from other races, and 4.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.52% of the population.
There were 24,186 households out of which 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 all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the city the population was spread out with 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% who were 65 years of age 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 income for a household in the city was $41,693, and the median income for a family 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.
According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of La Mesa in 2005 was $55,609 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $45,156.
The City of La Mesa was incorporated on February 16, 1912, under the general laws of the State of California. As such, it does not have a City charter but operates under the laws of the State of California in all respects not specifically covered by any City ordinance.
The City Council consists of five members who are elected from the City at large. The Mayor is elected directly by the citizens of La Mesa. The current mayor is Art Madrid.
In the state legislature La Mesa is located in the 36th Senate District, represented by Republican Dennis Hollingsworth, and in the 77th Assembly District, represented by Republican Joel Anderson. Federally, La Mesa is located in California's 52nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +9 and is represented by Republican Duncan Hunter.
The schools in La Mesa are operated by two districts. The La Mesa-Spring Valley district operates the elementary and middle schools in the city, while the Grossmont district operates Helix High School and the Gateway day schools.
The Back to the 50's Car Show is an annual summer event where classic car enthusiats 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 Bl. Admission to the event is free.