Don Lane

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Don Lane

Don Lane is a Santa Cruz activist and local politician. He lives with his wife Mary Howe, an electronics technician and union member at UCSC; and his daughter Tida Lane-Howe, an artist and student at Cabrillo College.[1]

Early activism

A fourth generation Californian, Don Lane arrived in Santa Cruz in 1973 at the age of 17 to study politics and history at UCSC. After graduating with honors, he staffed the local election campaign of then Congressmember Leon Panetta.[2]

DSA Conference delegate

In 1983 Don Lane was a Santa Cruz, California delegate to the Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York City, October 14-16, 1983[3]


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. Once the Saturn Café was on steady footing, Don returned to community involvement, 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.[4]

City Council

In 1988, while still managing the Saturn Café, Don Lane was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council. During his term, Downtown Santa Cruz was devastated by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Much of his tenure was focused on working with other city officials and community members on the successful downtown rebuilding effort. Don also successfully championed a handful of affordable housing projects and led an effort to improve homeless services. He also served on the Board of Directors of the local Metro Transit system and on the Regional Transportation Commission.[5]

Local activism

After completing a term as Mayor of Santa Cruz, Don chose not to run for reelection...and turned 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 Representative Sam Farr, and then played a key role in initiating two new nonprofit organizations. The first nonprofit was the Homeless Community Resource Center--which has now grown into the highly successful 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.

Most recently, Lane has worked as an administrator with three different nonprofit organizations in Santa Cruz and he is currently an Associate Director at the Homeless Services Center. As a volunteer, he recently hosted a local Community Television program that explored the development of a sustainable economy in Santa Cruz. He also volunteered his energies a Chair of the City's General Plan Advisory Committee. This successful process helped hundreds of citizens get involved in mapping out our community's plans for the next 20 years and led to the unanimous acceptance of a draft plan by the City Council.[6]

2008 Council run

In 2008 Don Lane ran for Council Member; City of Santa Cruz.