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Mendocino County's cities

Mendocino County has 4 cities: Fort Bragg, Point Arena, Ukiah and Willits. In 2019* Mendocino County had 87,000 people, which is less than Arden Arcade's 2019 population of 103,000. Put another way, with thousands less people than Arden Arcade, Mendocino County has 5 County Supervisors, 1 Supervisor for each 17,400 people. By contrast, Sacramento County has 1 County Supervisor for 315,000 people, which is greater thanb 3 times the population of Arden Arcade. Beyond his County-wide responsibilities, the Supervisor whose district includes Arden Arcade is also Arden Arcade's only elected official in charge of municipal affairs.

Note that none of the Cities in Mendocino had to say "Mother may I?" to LAFCO, spend money on a Financial Feasibility Analysis, prepare an Environmental Impact Report, pay alimony to the county in order to become a city, or pay for the costs of a municipal incorporation election. Yet they have all stood the test of time.

• Fort Bragg - Fort Bragg has been a city for over 132 years. Established as a lumber company town, it flourished after the devasating earthquake and fire of 1906 created a huge demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco. Over the years it has transitioned from an extraction-based economy (lumber and fishing) to a coastal service and retail hub with a significant tourism-based economy. Perhaps as a result of the local economy, household incomes there are slightly less than those found in Arden Arcade. With a 2019 population of 7,300 and a 5-member City Council (from which the Mayor is selected), Fort Bragg has 1 municipal official for each 1,460 residents.

• Point Arena - Point Arena became a city in 1908 for a reason that we can understand here in Arden Arcade: liquor licenses. According to the City's web site, there was "controversy over whether Point Arena would sell alcohol or go “dry.” The town had 14 liquor licenses and wanted to protect them in case Mendocino County went dry. By becoming a city, Point Arena could regulate and issue its own liquor licenses, as well as collect a larger share of the local taxes instead of relying on the county to share its revenue." There were 421 people living in Point Arena in 2019. The City Council has 5 members, with one of them chosen as Mayor each year. That's 1 elected official for every 84 municipal residents.

Point Arena residents "take pride in the fact that the community is self-contained and can meet their needs without reliance on big outside corporations."
City of Point Arena web site:
May contain: housing, building, cabin, and house
The Sun House (1911) in Ukiah at the Grace Hudson Museum

• Ukiah - A city of 16,000 people in 2019, Ukiah is the county seat of Mendocino County. The Board of Supervisors approved a petition to incorporate the city in 1872. After some difficulties among the initial leaders (including a death, a resignation and election candidates failing to qualify) it was de-incorporated in 1874. It was re-incorporated again in 1876 by an act of the Legislature. By 1889 the railroad line was extended to Ukiah from Petaluma, facilitating its agricultural economy of hops, pears and lumber. By now, Ukiah has become an integral part of California's wine country. There are 5 members of the City Council, a ration of 1 council member for 3,200 municipal residents. The Mayor is appointed from the Council. There is also an elected Treasurer.

• Willits - Since its incorporation in 1888 the City of Willits has grown from a tiny settlement of 150 or so people to a 2019 town of almost 5000 people with another 10000 in its economic service area. Willits is centrally located in Mendocino County at the junction of Highways 101 and 20 and is a terminus for the Skunk Train to Fort Bragg. There are 5 members of the City Council (from which the Mayor is selected) which means there is 1 elected municipal official for each 1,000 residents.

* Unless otherwise noted, all data citied on this page are from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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