Fresno County, California

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Fresno County, California
County of Fresno
Downtown Fresno, looking east from Chukchansi Park
Downtown Fresno, looking east from Chukchansi Park
Official seal of Fresno County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°39′W / 36.75°N 119.65°W / 36.75; -119.65Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°39′W / 36.75°N 119.65°W / 36.75; -119.65
Country United States
State California
RegionSan Joaquin Valley
Metro areaFresno-Madera
Named forThe city of Fresno (Spanish for "ash tree")
County seatFresno
Largest cityFresno
 • Total6,011 sq mi (15,570 km2)
 • Land5,958 sq mi (15,430 km2)
 • Water53 sq mi (140 km2)
Highest elevation14,248 ft (4,343 m)
 • Total930,450
 • Estimate 
 • Density150/sq mi (60/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code559
FIPS code06-019
GNIS feature ID277274

Fresno County, officially the County of Fresno, is a county located in the central portion of the U.S. state of California. As of January 1, 2018, the population was 1,007,229.[4] The county seat is Fresno,[5] the fifth-largest city in California.

Fresno County comprises the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area. It is located in the Central Valley, south of Stockton and north of Bakersfield.


The area now known as Fresno County was the traditional homeland of Yokuts and Mono peoples, and was later settled by Spaniards during a search for suitable mission sites. In 1846, this area became part of the United States as a result of the Mexican War.

Fresno County was formed in 1856 from parts of Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties. Fresno is Spanish for "ash tree"[6] and it was in recognition of the abundance of the shrubby local Ash, Fraxinus dipetala, growing along the San Joaquin River that it received its name. Parts of Fresno County's territory were given to Mono County in 1861 and to Madera County in 1893. The original county seat was along the San Joaquin River in Millerton, but was moved to the rapidly growing town of Fresno on the newly built Southern Pacific Railroad line after a flood destroyed much of the town.[citation needed]

The settling of Fresno County was not without its conflicts, land disputes, and other natural disasters. Floods caused immeasurable damage elsewhere and fires also plagued the settlers of Fresno County. In 1882, the greatest of the early day fires wiped out an entire block of the city of Fresno, and was followed by another devastating blaze in 1883.[citation needed]

At the same time residents brought irrigation, electricity, and extensive agriculture to the area. Moses Church developed the first canals, called "Church Ditches," for irrigation. These canals allowed extensive cultivation of wheat. Francis Eisen, leader of the wine industry in Fresno County, also began the raisin industry in 1875, when he accidentally let some of his grapes dry on the vine. A.Y. Easterby and Clovis Cole (aka the "Wheat King of the Nation") developed extensive grain and cattle ranches. These and other citizens laid the groundwork for the cultivation of Fresno County – now one of the nation's leading agricultural regions. In more recent times cotton became a major crop in Fresno and the southern San Joaquin Valley, but recent drought and lower demand have lessened cotton's importance to the local economy.[citation needed]

The discovery of oil in the western part of the county, near the town of Coalinga at the foot of the Coast Ranges, brought about an economic boom in the 1900s (decade), even though the field itself was known at least as early as the 1860s. By 1910, Coalinga Oil Field, the largest field in Fresno County, was the most richly productive oil field in California; a dramatic oil gusher in 1909, the biggest in California up until that time, was an event of sufficient excitement to cause the Los Angeles Stock Exchange to close for a day so that its members could come by train to view it. The Coalinga field continues to produce oil, and is currently the eighth-largest field in the state.[7][8]

More than thirty structures in Fresno County are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Fresno Water Tower, which once held over 250,000 US gallons (950 m3) of water for the city of Fresno, the Meux Home, and Kearney Mansion Museum.[citation needed]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6,011 square miles (15,570 km2), of which 5,958 square miles (15,430 km2) is land and 53 square miles (140 km2) (0.9%) is water.[9]

Major watercourses are the San Joaquin River, Kings River, Delta-Mendota Canal, Big Creek, Friant Kern Canal, Helm Canal and Madera Canal. It is bordered on the west by the Coast Range and on the east by the Sierra Nevada. It is the center of a large agricultural area, known as the most agriculturally rich county in the United States. The county withdrew 3.7 billion US gallons (14,000,000 m3) of fresh water per day in 2000, more than any other county in the United States.

Fresno County is part of the Madera AVA wine region.

Fresno was actually named after two particular ash trees that grew near the town of Minkler on the Kings River, one of which is still alive and standing.[citation needed]

National protected areas

  • Giant Sequoia National Monument (part)
  • Kings Canyon National Park (part)
  • Sequoia National Forest (part)
  • Sierra National Forest (part)


A number of minerals have been discovered in the county, including macdonaldite, krauskopfite, walstromite, fresnoite, verplanckite, muirite, traskite, and kampfite.[10][11]



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Est. 2017989,255[19]6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[20]
1790–1960[21] 1900–1990[22]
1990–2000[23] 2010–2015[4]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Fresno County had a population of 930,450. The racial makeup of Fresno County was 515,145 (55.4%) White, 49,523 (5.3%) African American, 15,649 (1.7%) Native American, 89,357 (9.6%) Asian (3.3% Hmong, 1.7% Asian Indian, 1.0% Filipino, 0.8% Laotian, 0.6% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.5% Cambodian, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.2% Korean, 0.1% Pakistani, 0.1% Thai), 1,405 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 217,085 (23.3%) from other races, and 42,286 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 468,070 persons (50.3%).[24] 46.0% of Fresno County's population is of Mexican descent; 0.7% of its residents are Salvadoran, and 0.3% of its residents are Puerto Rican.


As of the census[25] of 2000, there were 799,407 people, 252,940 households, and 186,669 families residing in the county. The population density was 134 people per square mile (52/km²). There were 270,767 housing units at an average density of 45 per square mile (18/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 54.3% White, 5.3% Black or African American, 1.6% Native American, 8.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. 44.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 7.5% were of German ancestry according to Census 2000. 59.3% spoke English, 31.5% Spanish and 3.1% Hmong as their first language.

There were 252,940 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.59.

In the county, the population was spread out with 32.1% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,725, and the median income for a family was $38,455. Males had a median income of $33,375 versus $26,501 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,495. About 17.6% of families and 22.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.7% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.

Fresno County is also known for having the highest rate of chlamydia in the state. In 2006 it had 545.2 cases per 100,000 people, compared with the statewide average of 363.5.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Fresno County as the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.[26] The United States Census Bureau ranked the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 56th most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.[27]

The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area,[26] the 49th most populous combined statistical area and the 55th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.[27][28]

Government and policing


The Government of Fresno County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, law, and the Charter of the County of Fresno. Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of county governments, such as the Government of Fresno County. The County government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.

The County government is composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors, several other elected offices including the Sheriff,[29] District Attorney, Assessor-Recorder, Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector, and Clerk/Registrar of Voters, and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the County Administrator. As of January 2017 the members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors are:[30]

  • Brian Pacheco, District 1
  • Vacant, District 2
  • Sal Quintero, District 3,
  • Buddy Mendes, District 4
  • Nathan Magsig, District 5


County Sheriff

The Fresno County Sheriff provides court protection, jail administration, and coroner services for all of Fresno County and its population of approximately of 1,002,00 residents. It provides police patrol and detective services for the unincorporated areas of the county which encompasses approximately 250,000 residents, or 25% of the county's total population. The Sheriff also provides law enforcement services by contract with the municipality of San Joaquin, population 4100.

Municipal police

Municipal police departments in the county are: Fresno, population 500,000; Clovis, 110,000; Sanger, 25,000; Reedley, 24,000;Selma, 23,000; Coalinga, 17,000; Kerman, 14,000; Kingsburg, 12,000; Huron, 7,000; Firebaugh, 8,500; Fowler, 6,500.



Fresno County's voter registration shows a majority of Democratic voters.[31]US Senate races are competitive. County voters preferred Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The cities of Clovis, Coalinga, and Kingsburg voted overwhelmingly for Governor Mitt Romney. Reedley did so by much lesser margins and is now a GOP-leaning "swing" city in the county. Huron, Mendota, Orange Cove, Parlier, Fowler, Firebaugh, Fresno, Kerman, Sanger, Selma and San Joaquin voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.[citation needed]

According to the California Secretary of State, in October 2012 there were 410,188 registered voters in Fresno County. 158,267 (38.6%) were registered Republican, 164,663 (40.1%) were registered Democratic, 19,841 (4.8%) are registered with other political parties, and 67,417 (16.4%) declined to state a political party.[citation needed] Republicans have a plurality or majority of voter roll registration in the cities of Clovis, Coalinga, Kingsburg, Reedley, and the unincorporated areas. The other cities and towns have Democratic pluralities or majorities.

From Fresno County's incorporation in 1849, it voted Democratic in every election until the 1904 election in California, when President Theodore Roosevelt stood for re-election. Fresno County backed Roosevelt over his Democratic opponent Alton B. Parker. This did not immediately change the county's voting tendencies, however. It supported southern Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the elections of 1912 and 1916.

Fresno County was generally Republican from the onset of the "roaring 1920s" until the Great Depression, when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt forged the New Deal Coalition that benefitted the agrarian county. From 1932 till 1976 the county consistently voted Democratic, barring Richard Nixon's landslide victory over former Senator George McGovern (D-SD) in the 1972 Presidential Election.

With former President Jimmy Carter's defeat by former President Reagan, Fresno became a GOP-leaning swing county: it barely favored Reagan's successor former President Bush and voted Democratic for Bill Clinton only in his 1992 presidential bid. Republicans won elections in Fresno County by increasing margins from 1996 to 2004, but when the GOP lost ground with Hispanic voters after 2004, the county swung Democratic, voting twice for Barack Obama, and then for Hillary Clinton in 2016, although the last time the Democratic nominee won with an absolute majority of the vote remains the 1964 election.

Presidential elections results
Fresno County vote
by party in presidential elections
201643.21% 124,04949.24% 141,3417.55% 21,672
201247.94% 124,49049.72% 129,1292.34% 6,078
200847.91% 131,01549.99% 136,7062.10% 5,731
200457.38% 141,98841.68% 103,1540.94% 2,321
200053.14% 117,34243.05% 95,0593.82% 8,434
199647.42% 98,81345.32% 94,4487.26% 15,132
199240.67% 89,13742.17% 92,41817.16% 37,606
198849.95% 94,83548.79% 92,6351.26% 2,400
198454.30% 104,75744.74% 86,3150.97% 1,864
198051.13% 82,51540.43% 65,2548.44% 13,617
197648.10% 72,53349.71% 74,9582.20% 3,314
197250.44% 79,05146.38% 72,6823.18% 4,986
196843.60% 59,90147.42% 65,1538.98% 12,342
196434.33% 46,79265.57% 89,3750.10% 141
196044.32% 57,93055.21% 72,1640.47% 608
195643.33% 51,61156.44% 67,2340.23% 270
195248.95% 54,62650.30% 56,1350.75% 837
194837.20% 30,37958.49% 47,7624.31% 3,524
194435.50% 22,66863.84% 40,7690.67% 425
194029.79% 21,07969.07% 48,8661.14% 805
193620.94% 11,54577.75% 42,8591.31% 722
193226.07% 12,13469.90% 32,5284.03% 1,875
192854.30% 20,68744.32% 16,8841.38% 527
192444.01% 15,63512.98% 4,61043.02% 15,282
192055.36% 14,62136.39% 9,6138.25% 2,179
191641.07% 11,70749.95% 14,2418.98% 2,560
19120.46% 9542.96% 8,89156.58% 11,710
190850.89% 6,38437.81% 4,74311.30% 1,418
190455.78% 4,92931.86% 2,81512.36% 1,092
190047.34% 3,58547.41% 3,5905.26% 398
189640.22% 2,68656.75% 3,7903.04% 203
189237.18% 3,03142.35% 3,45320.47% 1,669

In the United States House of Representatives, Fresno County is split among four congressional districts:[33]

In the California State Senate, the county is split among 3 legislative districts:[38]

In the California State Assembly, Fresno County is split between the 23rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Jim Patterson, and the 31st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Joaquin Arambula.[39]

Fresno tends to remain socially conservative while being more moderate on economic issues, which can be seen in Fresno's support for socially conservative proposition amendments but occasionally voting for a Democratic Presidential Candidate if economic times are poor such as former President Bill Clinton's victory over incumbent former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and President Barack Obama over Senator John McCain in 2008.

On November 4, 2008, Fresno County voted 68.6% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


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



Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno County. Ag production totaled $5.3 billion in 2007, making it the number one agricultural county in the nation.[1] Major crops and livestocks include:

Companies based in Fresno County

  • Gottschalks Department Stores (liquidated in 2010 )
  • Sun-Maid Raisins
  • Pinnacle Armor, maker of the Dragon Skin Body Armor
  • Pelco, maker of surveillance cameras (acquired by Schneider Electric October 2007)[43]
  • David Sunflower Seeds, now part of ConAgra Foods
  • Flicks Candy Company
  • Harris Ranch Beef Company
  • Saladino's Inc
  • National Raisin Company
  • Pacific Ethanol
  • United Security Bank
  • Central Valley Community Bank
  • Electronic Recyclers International

Major employers


Educational institutions in Fresno County include:

Within the California Community Colleges System, Fresno County is mostly covered by the State Center Community College District and the West Hills Community College District. The following campuses are in Fresno County:[45]

  • Clovis Community College near the City of Clovis
  • Fresno City College in the City of Fresno
  • Reedley College in the City of Reedley
  • West Hills College Coalinga in the City of Coalinga

In addition, the Fresno County Public Library operates public libraries throughout the county.


Major highways

  • I-5 (CA).svg Interstate 5
  • California 33.svg State Route 33
  • California 41.svg State Route 41
  • California 43.svg State Route 43
  • California 63.svg State Route 63
  • California 99.svg State Route 99
  • California 145.svg State Route 145
  • California 168.svg State Route 168
  • California 180.svg State Route 180
  • California 198.svg State Route 198
  • California 201.svg State Route 201
  • California 269.svg State Route 269


  • BNSF Railway
  • Union Pacific Railroad
  • San Joaquin Valley Railroad
  • Biola Branch (Southern Pacific) (abandoned)
  • Shaver Lake Railroad (abandoned)
  • San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad (abandoned)


Commercial service
  • Fresno Yosemite Int'l Airport
General Aviation
  • Fresno Chandler Executive Airport
  • Firebaugh Airport
  • Mendota Airport
  • New Coalinga Municipal Airport
  • Reedley Municipal Airport
  • Sierra Sky Park Airport

Public transportation

  • Fresno Area Express or FAX is the local bus operator in Fresno.
  • Clovis Transit Stageline is the bus service in Clovis.
  • Reedley Transit a.k.a. Dial-A-Ride services Reedley.
  • Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) offers a variety of local and intercity transit services around Fresno County.
  • Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages provide intercity, long-distance bus service.
  • Amtrak San Joaquins stop in Fresno.




  • Clovis
  • Coalinga
  • Firebaugh
  • Fowler
  • Fresno (county seat)
  • Huron
  • Kerman
  • Kingsburg
  • Mendota
  • Orange Cove
  • Parlier
  • Reedley
  • San Joaquin
  • Sanger
  • Selma

Census-designated places

  • Auberry
  • Big Creek
  • Biola
  • Bowles
  • Calwa
  • Cantua Creek
  • Caruthers
  • Centerville
  • Del Rey
  • Easton
  • Fort Washington
  • Friant
  • Lanare
  • Laton
  • Malaga
  • Mayfair
  • Minkler
  • Monmouth
  • Old Fig Garden
  • Raisin City
  • Riverdale
  • Shaver Lake
  • Squaw Valley
  • Sunnyside
  • Tarpey Village
  • Three Rocks
  • Tranquillity
  • West Park

Unincorporated communities

  • Avocado
  • Dunlap
  • Highway City
  • Mercey Hot Springs
  • Prather
  • Rolinda
  • Tollhouse

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Fresno County.[46]

county seat

RankCity/Town/etc.Municipal typePopulation (2010 Census)

1 FresnoCity494,665
11Orange CoveCity9,078
15Old Fig GardenCDP5,365
18San JoaquinCity4,001
19Tarpey VillageCDP3,888
20Squaw ValleyCDP3,162
27Del ReyCDP1,639
29West ParkCDP1,157
33Shaver LakeCDP634
36Cantua CreekCDP466
38Raisin CityCDP380
39Three RocksCDP246
40Fort WashingtonCDP233
41Cold Springs Rancheria[47]AIAN184
42Big CreekCDP175
45Big Sandy Rancheria[48]AIAN118
46Table Mountain Rancheria[49]AIAN64

See also

  • Fresno County Library
  • List of museums in the San Joaquin Valley
  • List of school districts in Fresno County, California
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Fresno County, California


  1. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
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