Don Lane (Santa Cruz)

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

Don Lane (born January 12, 1956) is a former 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. 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 and 2015.[1] Lane lives with his wife Mary Howe, a retired UCSC electronics technician. His daughter Tida Lane-Howe, lives in Portland, Oregon.[2]

Schooling and First Term[edit]

Lane arrived in Santa Cruz in 1973 at the age of 17 to study politics and history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Getting his start in politics, he staffed the Santa Cruz area election campaign of soon-to-be elected Congressman Leon Panetta in 1976 and again after graduating in 1978.

Searching for a way to remain in Santa Cruz, he started the Saturn Café and built the restaurant into a local staple and cultural phenomenon. 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. 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 focused on a few affordable housing projects and improving the city’s homeless services. His first term was not without turmoil. In a Santa Cruz Sentinel article he said that during his term there was "inadequate, vacuous and often unfair press coverage, outright meanness and hatred aimed at me from various quarters."[3]

After completing a term as mayor of Santa Cruz in 1992, Lane took a hiatus from the council. He turned his attention to new projects. First he sold his majority ownership of the Saturn Café, and then worked as a campaign coordinator for Representative Sam Farr. He also played a key role in founding the Homeless Community Resource Center, which is now the Homeless Services Center. In 1996, he co-founded and directed an organization called Youth Opportunities, a job training program for disadvantaged teens.[2]

Second and Third Terms[edit]

Second and Third Terms: In 2008 Lane decided to run for Santa Cruz City Council again. In a Santa Cruz Sentinel article he stated that his platform was nearly the same as before. He would focus on jobs and affordable housing. He emphasized that what changed was "my style rather than my views. I've learned to take it easier and I have more experience working with people. I’m more collaborative in my style now.” He won a seat on the Council in 2008 and received enough votes to become mayor for a year during his four-year term.[2]

He ran for reelection in 2012 and again won enough votes to become serve a term as mayor in 2015. [4] During this term he served on the Economic Development Council,[1] Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District Board of Directors and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC). He also co-chaired the successful campaign in favor of Measure D, to improve transportation infrastructure and alternative transportation programs in Santa Cruz County.

Lane currently works for the Appleton Foundation, chairs the Smart Solutions to Homelessness project of the United Way , and is a part-time lecturer at UC Santa Cruz.


  1. ^ a b "Mayor Don Lane", City of Santa Cruz, Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Don Lane, "Full Biography for Don Lane", Smart Voter, 11/4/08. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  3. ^ Shanna McCord, "Twenty Years Later, Former Santa Cruz Mayor Gets ready to run for office", Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Santa Cruz City, "Santa Cruz City Council". Retrieved May 30, 2015.