Don lives with his wife Mary Howe on Van Ness Avenue. Mary is a retired UCSC electronics technician and a nearly full-time volunteer with Village Santa Cruz, which she co-founded three years ago. They have two daughters (Tida and Soji) - both Santa Cruz High graduates – and two granddaughters.
Don 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 worked for the Panetta campaign 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 activities, 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 running the Saturn Café, Lane was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council. During his term, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake devastated Downtown Santa Cruz and many homes. Much of his tenure was focused on working with other city officials and community members on the successful rebuilding effort. He also focused on affordable housing projects improving the city’s homeless services, and building a sustainable local economy.
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 called Housing Matters. In 1996, he co-founded and directed an organization called Youth Opportunities, a job training program for disadvantaged teens.
After serving the community as chair of the General Plan Advisory Committee and chair of the Housing Advisory Committee, Lane decided to seek another term on the Santa Cruz City Council. He won a seat on the Council in 2008 and received enough votes to become mayor for a year during his four-year term. He ran for reelection in 2012 and again won enough votes to become serve a term as mayor in 2015. During this term he served on the Economic Development Council, 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.
After completing his third term, he co-chaired the campaign for Measure H, an affordable housing funding measure for Santa Cruz County. The measure achieved majority support from voters but did not achieve the two-thirds majority required for passage.
Lane currently works for the Appleton Foundation (a local charitable foundation), chairs the Smart Solutions to Homelessness project, serves on the board of the Homeless Action Partnership and, from time to time, is a lecturer in public policy at UC Santa Cruz. He spends his spare time camping, bicycling, playing basketball and sampling ice cream with his family.