Mendota is a city in Fresno County, California, United States. The population was 9,752 at the 2006 census. The State Routes 180 and 33 run through the agricultural city. Mendota is located 8.5 miles (14 km) south-southeast of Firebaugh, at an elevation of 174 feet (53 m).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.8 km²), all of it land.
Beginning in 1891, Mendota thrived as a Southern Pacific Railroad storage and switching facility site. Southern Pacific management borrowed the name from Mendota, Illinois. The first post office opened in 1892. The city incorporated in 1942, and is mostly recognized for its immense production of cantaloupes. Appropriately, the city of Mendota is identified as The Cantaloupe Center of the World. State water projects brought irrigation to the region, setting the stage for the tremendous growth of agriculture.
As of the census of 2006, there were 9752 people, 1,825 households, and 1,545 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,229.4 people per square mile (1,629.1/km²). There were 1,878 housing units at an average density of 1,006.7/sq mi (387.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 27.33% White, 0.66% Black or African American, 1.31% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 63.12% from other races, and 6.70% from two or more races. 94.65% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,825 households out of which 53.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.8% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 15.3% were non-families. 9.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.32 and the average family size was 4.38.
In the city the population was spread out with 33.9% under the age of 18, 15.3% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 14.7% from 45 to 64, and 5.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 130.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 142.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,705, and the median income for a family was $22,984. Males had a median income of $17,500 versus $21,319 for females. The per capita income for the city was $6,967. About 35.2% of families and 41.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.4% of those under age 18 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, about 44.1% of employed Mendota civilians over age 16 were employed in agriculture, forestry, fishing, or hunting. 14.1% were employed in the second-largest sector for this group, wholesale trade.
Mendota has 1,827 registered voters, and has the lowest percentage of "decline to state" voters in California. 7.6% of voters are "decline to state" while 69.1% are registered Democrats and 17.9% are registered Republican.
As of September 2006, Mendota Federal Correctional Institution, a federal prison, is under construction about 1-mile (1.6 km) south of downtown. A prominent water tower marks the location. The facility is built on 960 acres (3.9 km2) of land at a cost of over US$110 million. Completion is scheduled for 2008. The facility will include a medium security section which will house 1,152 adults and a minimum camp with a capacity of 128. The facility will have 300-350 full-time staff.
The new and improved Mendota Branch Library was built in 2007 and opened on September 28, 2007. It is part of the San Joaquin Valley Library System (SJVLS); a cooperative network of nine public library jurisdictions in the counties of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa and Tulare. The Fresno County Public Library branch in Mendota provides free access to library services and materials to enhance the quality of lives and further lifelong learning through books, DVDs, CDs, technology, programs, and services that inform, enlighten and entertain people of all ages.