Don Lane (Santa Cruz)

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Don Lane
Assumed office
November 2008
Personal details
Alma mater University of California, Santa Cruz
Website Don Lane for Santa Cruz City Council

Don Lane (born January 12, 1956) is an elected official, community organizer, and charitable foundation administrator in Santa Cruz, California. Lane spent many years working for and managing the Saturn Cafe after graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1978.[1] While operating the Saturn Cafe, Lane served the community in multiple capacities in the City of Santa Cruz and community groups; leading to his serving as Santa Cruz Mayor in 1992 and again in 2012.[2] Lane lives with his wife Mary Howe, an electronics technician and union member at UCSC. His daughter Tida Lane-Howe, lives in Portland, Oregon.[3]

Early work and schooling[edit]

As a fourth generation Californian, Lane arrived in Santa Cruz in 1973 at the age of 17 to study politics and history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After graduating with honors, he staffed the election campaign of then Congressman Leon Panetta.

Searching for a way to remain in Santa Cruz with long-term employment, he started the Saturn Café and built the restaurant into a local institution.

Early politics Once the Saturn Café was on steady footing, Lane returned to community politics, serving on the City Water Commission and the City Public Works Commission. He was also active in the local Democratic Party, serving as chair of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party and as president of a local Democratic Club.

In 1988, while still managing the Saturn Café, Lane was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council.[4] During his term, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake devastated Downtown Santa Cruz. Much of his tenure was focused on working with other city officials and community members on the successful downtown rebuilding effort. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz Metro Transit system and on the Regional Transportation Commission.

After completing a term as mayor of Santa Cruz in 1992, Lane chose not to run for re-election. In a Santa Cruz Sentinel story at the time, Lane said his reasons for not running again were "inadequate, vacuous and often unfair press coverage, outright meanness and hatred aimed at me from various quarters; interference with every aspect of my so-called private life..." "Lane quit taking calls from the Sentinel regarding city business for three months while serving as mayor."[5] Also, there was a past controversy involving a recall initiated because of an obscene Valentine's he sent to a policy opponent. "Lane became enmeshed in something of a political scandal when he joined other former council members Mo Reich and Jane Yokoyama in March 1989 in sending an obscene Valentine to opponents of their decision to not invite a Navy ship to stop in Santa Cruz. One recipient of the Valentine card featuring a middle finger was then-Scotts Valley Mayor Glennon Culwell, a minister at GateWay Bible Church in Scotts Valley." (It was later discovered that the card to Culwell was sent by City Councilmember Mo Reich and Lane was not implicated.)[6][7] Turning his attention to new projects. He sold his majority ownership share of the Saturn Café, took a short term position as a campaign coordinator for Congressman Sam Farr.[8]

Community organizing and nonprofit work[edit]

While serving on the City Council, Lane successfully championed a handful of affordable housing projects and led an effort to improve homeless services. After his term Lane continued to play a key role in the community by initiating two new nonprofit organizations. The first was the Homeless Community Resource Center—which has now grown into the Homeless Services Center. The second nonprofit organization was Youth Opportunities, a job training program for disadvantaged teens—that was located within a downtown ice cream shop. The Youth Opportunities program trained and employed more than fifty teens during its 4 year run.

More recently, Lane has worked as an administrator with three different nonprofit organizations in Santa Cruz and he is currently employed as the administrative manager of the Appleton Foundation, as Santa Cruz-based charitable foundation. He again successfully ran for a seat on the Santa Cruz City Council in 2008 after the voting public was assured by former mayor Mike Rotkin that 52 year-old Lane "had matured." . He was re-elected in 2012. He also serves as the Chair of the Smart Solutions to Homelessness Leadership Council, which is a project of the United Way.