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 was used by Spanish Missionaries.
La Mesa was founded in 1869 and 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. Its official flower is the bougainvillea.
La Mesa is located at (32.771450, -117.022797). It is bordered by the city of San Diego on the west and north, Spring Valley and Lemon Grove on the south, and El Cajon on the east. It includes the neighborhood of Grossmont.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.1 square miles (24 km2). 9.1 square miles (24 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.44%) is water.
La Mesa is approximately 12 mi (19 km)) east of the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, La Mesa typically experiences more extreme temperatures than San Diego, which mostly lies significantly closer to the Pacific Ocean. La Mesa has a Semi-arid Steppe climate. La Mesa typically has hot, dry summers and warm winters with most of the annual precipitation falling between November and March. The city has dry weather with around 13" of annual precipitation. Summer temperatures are generally hot, with average highs of 78°F-92°F (26°C–33°C) and lows of 56°F–68°F (13°C–20°C). Winter temperatures are warm, with average high temperatures of 66°F–77°F (19°C–25°C) and lows of 46°F–58°F (8°C–14°C). The climate in the San Diego area, like much of California, often varies significantly over short geographical distances resulting in micro-climates. In San Diego's case this is mainly due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons). Frequently, particularly during the "May gray/June gloom" period, a thick "marine layer" cloud cover will keep the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine approximately 5–10 miles (8–16 km) inland. This happens every year in May and June. Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas tend to experience much higher temperatures than areas closer to the coast.
The 2010 United States Census reported that La Mesa had a population of 57,065. The population density was 6,259.6 people per square mile (2,416.8/km²). The racial makeup of La Mesa was 40,964 (71.8%) White, 4,399 (7.7%) African American, 431 (0.8%) Native American, 3,289 (5.8%) Asian, 318 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 4,326 (7.6%) from other races, and 3,338 (5.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,696 persons (20.5%).
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