During his years on the city council, Don Lane, 56, has seen the downtown destroyed and rebuilt after the Loma Prieta earthquake and he's voted to bring in affordable housing, to allow dogs downtown and to build the first professional stadium.
He was elected in 1988, then in 1992 and finally in 2008.
1. PATCH: Where do you stand on the issue of a desalination plant, and do you think it should be left up to the people of Santa Cruz to decide as outlined in Measure P?
Lane: I do support the right of the voters to decide on desalination… and authored the city ordinance to require such a vote. I believe the City will definitely need a new water source in the near future. We are about to lose a big portion of our current supply in order to protect endangered species. The aquifer under the Live Oak portion of our water service area is threatened with destruction because of seawater intrusion. And our community is very vulnerable to a multi-year drought. I believe desalination will be a viable and reliable option to solve these problems-- if it is found that it can be built and operated in an environmentally responsible way. We’ll know a lot more about that once the Environmental Impact Report is completed. Voters need to be provided with good information on the desal issue. We cannot rely on nice sounding alternative ideas unless there is real evidence that those ideas can be turned into realistic projects that can meet our shortfall.
2. PATCH: How do you plan to fight crime in the wake of the ongoing economic doldrums? Do you think gang violence is growing within the city? If so, what do you think should be done about it?
LANE: The City has allocated funds to increase staffing in the police department and for private security patrols in problem areas. However, law enforcement alone will not resolve our crime issues. We need to continue to grow local jobs and economic opportunity. We need to fund prevention programs. We need to support the partnership that is developing between schools, social service agencies, neighborhood groups, local government and law enforcement agencies to adopt practices that have been proven in other communities to reduce youth violence and gang violence. I do not believe gang violence is growing in Santa Cruz but it does persist at troublesome levels and we need to use all the tools described above to reduce it.
3.PATCH: How do you plan on supporting the Arts in Santa Cruz?
LANE: I have been very active on the City Council supporting the Arts… supporting the City’s public art program, providing support for the Cultural Council, and helping complete the Tannery Arts Center. I have also made it a point during my current term to recognize and celebrate the Arts at City Council meetings and at community events.
4. PATCH: What do you think the best plan is for bringing back the local economy and creating jobs in Santa Cruz?
LANE: I believe it starts with support for our tourism economy… and continuing our work to have more tourism in the off-season. I also believe we’ll continue to improve the retail situation downtown. Another key element has been-- and will continue to be -- reaching out to existing small business to assist them to grow and thrive in Santa Cruz. Growth of existing business is the most reliable and productive job generator for this community. However, we should also pursue unique opportunities like the Warriors basketball project when they present themselves.
5.PATCH: What do you think Santa Cruz's greatest problem is and how do you propose we fix it? What are the city's greatest strengths that you'd like to see preserved and/or built upon?
LANE: The greatest problem right now is the ability for people to afford to live here… a combination of unemployment (and underemployment) and the high cost of housing. We need to promote new jobs (see above) and create new housing that is affordable to a working family or a young adult just starting out. We can do this by supporting housing projects that have smaller (and therefore less expensive) units and by putting more high-density housing in the downtown area.
The City’s greatest strength is its beautiful natural environment… beaches, greenbelts, parks, forests, clean air… and the community’s commitment to protect it.
6. PATCH: If it were up to you, how do you see Santa Cruz five years from now?
LANE: It will be even more beautiful than it is now.
Downtown will be even more lively than it is now.
More people will be riding bikes than ever before… and we’ll be using the rail line for more transportation options.
There will be fewer people living on the streets because we have housed more people and provided more employment opportunities, more substance abuse treatment, and more mental health treatment for people who have fallen through our social safety net.
There will be lots of entry level employment opportunities for young people—the best tool in preventing gang involvement.
We will have settled on a strategy to meet our water needs.