Facebook Post Turns Into a War of Words with the Mayor of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has always been a hotbed of debate. Now, it's spread to the Internet.

A video about the needles and trash strewn along Santa Cruz beaches and some rude comments have escalated into a war of words between Mayor Don Lane and some residents on Facebook. Arguments are nothing new to Santa Cruz. Just last week a man who gave a Nazi salute at the City Council was found not to have had his First Amendment rights violated when he was thrown out of the chamber. Lane and some constituents have been battling in public, online. This one is central to the future of the city: What can be done about the homeless and drug abusers who populate this city of 59,000 in numbers unrivaled by other cities this size? Some would like to see them run out of town, as they do in Carmel. Others look to city programs and compassion to help those in need. At times this argument gets as rude as the Nazi salute. Lane is angered that the Facebook users put his street in the posts and accused him of not caring enough about homeless people, something that has always been central to his life. Some constituents here say the mayor isn't doing enough, either to get rid of the homeless or to help them. Feel free to join the discussion here. Here is the video that started it: Below are the comments, including Lane's apology for being sarcastic and angry with one writer who attacked him. Comments have been edited down for clarity and inability to link. Facebook users can see the whole dialog here at the Take Back Santa Cruz site.
  • Ok don, we point out one problem, and the heats on, and you call in a cleanup crew. Living on van ness, what's your excuse for not identifying the problem yourself, namely that the city is overrun with transient criminal drug addicts, aided and abetted by the homeless shelters you support, which are putting our children, public spaces and community at risk? In short , mr. Lane, when will you yourself become proactive and address the problem, except when the "heats on" and you can no longer pretend...?
  • I have a great photo of this cave dweller... here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=430627916999415&set=a.368120916583449.87980.100001566315743&type=3&theater12 hours ago ·
  • ... should take you to my photo
  • Message me directly and I will show you!
  • Don Lane Dear Mr. Peak

    I’d like to invite you to meet with me some time and have a discussion about all the issues you raise.

    When we meet, if you think it would be appropriate, I will apologize for not being the person who identifies every single problem and crime in the city myself. I had not realized when I became mayor that I should personally be in every neighborhood of the city simultaneously 24 hours per day. (By the way, I hope you can let me know what difference it makes that I live on Van Ness? Does that mean I am able to see crime better than if I live on some other street?)

    When we meet, I also could apologize for actually responding to Dylan Greiner when he contacted me -- since it seems you are suggesting it would be better if I ignored his call and did not ask the city crews to help with the cleanup. My mistake.

    In our conversation, I will look forward to learning more from you how my support for the Rebele Family Shelter, which typically houses 40 to 50 children who are members of homeless families, is putting our children at risk. Silly me for not realizing that providing safe housing and a healthy environment -- free of substance abuse-- for these children was actually putting them at risk and making our community more dangerous.

    Quite frankly, it seems to me you are making several assumptions about me and what I do and how I operate. Perhaps having a real conversation could give you an opportunity to get past those assumptions and learn about my reality and my life and my work. I deal with crime issues and homelessness issues just about every day and work in a variety of ways to address these issues. And it is my job to work steadily toward realistic and constructive strategies and solutions. I do not have the luxury of simply raising issues and pointing fingers. I have been pro-active on issues of crime and issues related to homelessness for the last four years. I do respond to community efforts to highlight concerns but I also work on these issues even when there is no video posted on facebook… because these issues have been going on for a long time and need consistent attention—not just periodic bursts of outrage and quick response.

    I’d be happy to share info about my work with you if you’d like to get together. My phone number at city hall is 420-5022.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Don Lane
  •  Mayor, could you please add 'transient issues" to your list because not all those on the streets want a home!!!! And trash others. There is a HUGE difference, thanks, Chris Brown
  • Mr. mayor, this is not all the city's problem either, we need to work with the County, this is County wide. The biggest part of my outrage is the children, the ones who take Junior Guards at Cowell's and could step on one of those needles, how many times this year was Cowell's closed because of high bacteria? I am the one who found the Felker street 'wheelchair" guy "dealer" dead on the sidewalk thursday morning, I had gone to ask him to not block the sidewalk where the children in the apartments walk to school, they had to walk out in the street to get around him passed out. Making sure homeless children are safe is important and so are the ones in neighborhoods too. I wish I could be at the meeting, I thank you for coming! We all want whats best for OUR community and it is at stake!
  • Don Lane: I would like to thank you for responding to this disgusting and concerning situation. I also want to tell you that sarcasm does not become you, or any public official. I hope that in the future, you can respond to frustration and criticism without resorting to that.
  • TG: Where does the buck stop in this town if not with the Mayor? If there is someone else that should be addressed? Please enlighten
  •  Are you kidding me? What arrogance. This is a community issue and the community is concerned and it IS NOT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR HURT FEELINGS, MR. LANE. The intent of your response appears to me to have been to pull a Poor Me and shut down conversation completely. If that's the best you have in the way of communication and to have said it publicly for 1000s of people to read....I'm speechless. The drug crime has been building for years and we have to work together to eliminate the crime, which won't happen by continuing to create more feel good actions. These aren't the vagrants of the past.
  • Mr lane, would you confirm for everyone that it was indeed not the city that cleaned up this mess, but concerned citizens fed up with the bureaucracy that was preventing any action from being taken. The city did indeed pick up the small amount of trash that we left on west cliff, but I went down there the day your photo of city workers cleaning was posted. The mess was still there. It makes me a little frustrated when I see the city claiming work they did not do. All of that aside, lets move forward and work together as a community to make our home a better place. Your friend and neighbor, Danilo TJ Magallanes
  • Wow, that was a really condescending and disdainful response from Don Lane, our mayor. Our city, and the residents he claims to serve, deserve better than that. It is disappointing to see him attacking the very people who are working hard to make this a safer and cleaner place.

    At the very least, Don, it seems like you owe William Peak an apology. After that, since you've chosen to interact on this board, maybe you can answer some of the more difficult questions raised here, like the ones Gigi Hartman asked earlier in this thread.
  • Sadly,trust Mr. Lane to spin it to an opportunity to talk about his bloated machismo. Truth is, he is compassionate to a fault. Where does he take the hard line? Rumor has it he alerted the Occupy River Street Bank protestors prior to the police arriving. His post is another opportunity to spin the conversation on what he believes as opposed to what he has done. When has he told Santa Cruz, enough is enough? When will he say, we have to stop enabling criminal and violent drug activity?
  •  It's interesting how issues are framed - is this a single incident posted in Facebook (as Don indicates) - or is TBSC a growing movement do to problems stemming from a failure of the system to acknowledge and act (Peak's argument) - time will tell.
  • So I have been researching like a mad man. It seems from all the study's I've seen, homelessness does not increase violent crime. It does however place a Bain on local resources. I have been trying to find solutions that have worked other places. Here are a few ideas that have worked in the past.
    Homelessness should not be a lifestyle, but a transition period. There is a referendum that exists here in Santa Cruz. If we declare this problem an emergency we can use unused buildings as shelters. One proposal that has worked in the past in other places is a no free lunch program. This would require every person using the shelter to provide at least 4 hours of community service to be able to use the shelter that day. These shelters shall provide no more then 3 months of help per year per person. Any person suspected of being on drugs or alcohol may not use any services. Panhandling must be made illegal countywide. Every shelter must provide an immediate treatment program for any people struggling with addiction. These programs must last at least 3 months to effectively treat patients. Patients who can not afford treatment must be able to work off their stay at these facility's. (Think clean ups! Painting, gardening, trash removal, ) we have roughly 2,000 homeless in Santa Cruz. Think of all we could get done with this potential workforce. Simply providing meals does not work. People need to contribute in order to be a part of this village. If you don't like that..find somewhere else to call home.
  • Here's an interesting statistic. In a Good Times article, May 16, 2012, According to Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) spokesperson Zach Friend, 39 percent of all police cases in 2011 were associated with people who were either listed as transient or had the 115 Coral St. homeless shelter listed as their address. Identifying the commonality of criminal activity involving homeless persons is complicated.
  • That's all police cases, not violent crime
  • That includes drugs and loitering, public intox. Illegal camping. Definitely a Bain on our resources. Think of the ambulance rides and hospital bills.
  •  Good ideas - how do we define homeless - do we have a homeless problem - or do we have a free will transient problem supported by a homeless enabling infrastructure? - seems like the families Don refers to is one issue - and the druggies that polluted the beach is a different issue.
  • I think we all have a soft heart for someone or families down on their luck. That's where Mr. Lane likes to play it safe. Our greenspaces, our parks, our oceans are being polluted by people who don't care. That's where we need some real solutions.
  •  We can't just get rid of these people. Guidance, help and love for your community.these are things that will help fix this issue. Remember, the homeless make up a decent chunk of our community. They still count as humans on our planet and deserve respect.
  • I've talked with the people doing the polluting. And I crawled in the caves where the trash was and hauled it out myself. I don't have a soft heart, but an open mind. Believe it or not, these people need help. They cannot help themselves. Have you ever borrowed to pay for something important?. These people don't have that option. They don't know how to take care of themselves the way you or I would. A shelter needs to get people working. You know the old saying...idle hands ...hard work is gratifying. Working for what you have is life. We need to help educate these people to really make an impact.
  •  Many people I have spoken to choose the transient lifestyle. Offered to get them a job and almost all refused.
  • Danilo Tj Magallanes absolutley. did you read my previous comment?.. if you dont contribute..find another village
  • David Knight Like where you are going with your thinking - would take me a moment to process any single idea - it's going to be hard to get and maintain philosophical consensus around such a complex sets of human issues - everyone has their own perspective based on their lived experience - and everyone carries their own trump card (personal histories of homelessness, finding dead bodies, being a mayor, cleaning up beaches) - this is a journey of a thousand steps - which we are all on together - events (your video) spark change if sized appropriately - great thoughts and energy!
  • Danilo Tj Magallanes From a fellow archer...bullseye
  • Sunnie Keech Thank you thank you thank you for bringing this issue up front and center! My husband has been cleaning out garbage from the parks for years; tons and tons of it!
  • Mayor Lane, your effectiveness as our city leader is questionable when you respond like a 12 year old to criticism. It seems you've learned little about how to work with people since the Valentine card affair. Perhaps you could focus on the problems that transient criminal drug addicts bring to our community, rather than pretend people are talking about the helping of homeless families.
  •  Years of dismissing the concerns raised about criminal transient behavior by diverting the conversation to homeless families has not solved the problem, in fact, it's enabled the problems to continue, and here you are, doing it again, Mayor Lane. It's got to stop. Santa Cruz is overrun by criminals.
  • I think I figured out why Lane wouldn't post before the election, what a jerk!
  • the clean up is on YouTube showing who cleaned up, to state otherwise is not the truth, those darn video cameras....we all know who cleaned up!!! Maybe it should have been left for the city to clean up if that's the thanks these guys get for risking their own safety! Come ON! What is so hard to understand?
  • The homeless shelter is mostly all people from out of the area .. I know cause when I was there that is what I found and no children from santa cruz city would go their mine slept in the car and the shelter does NOT help local people it DRIVES US AWAY!!!
  • I'm so angry by the mayors comments that I am shaking and need to go run around the block
  • Karri Thygersen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xTuPXvDlg4&feature=share2 hours ago · Like
  • Locked-On Photog Keep in mind our mayor was elected by the people of SC, it's not him we need to fix... It's the perspectives & closed minds people have IN SC, yes it's true... Not everyone sees things for what they're
  •  You're right there's no fixing stupid, we need to stop electing stupid. Unfortunately most Santa Cruzians have no idea how bad things are getting, and how our leaders enable it to happen.
  • I hear there is more dumps and camps up the coast and these ones will only move so your problems are ginormous in santa cruz and the root is the homeless shelter and there is many more social issues that santa cruz has not managed well but putting regulations on the shelter and who it serves is a start. If you receive a time bomb as a gift, do you accept it? And the problem started before the shelter when the state hospital let all the crazies out in the 80's and the earth quake shook it all loose and what I said at the time santa cruz rebuilt but they left out the heart and the homeless are a result of that. But I do believe that there needs to be regulations on who receives services as there is very little resources and services left for families and citizens of santa cruz and most of us move out of the area due to lack of services that are safe.
  •  I have to say that I am gobsmacked by Don Lane's immature & ineffective response. It speaks volumes. I am amazed that this is the person who got more votes than any other City Council candidate. This is the person that is leading our city? Honestly, that scares me. If only people had seen a response of this nature prior to the election, maybe it would have made a difference.
  •  is correct about the encampments up the coast. We've seen rather permanent ones all the way up to Greyhound Rock. Well hidden with substantial amounts of garbage. They can bike into town pretty easy from up there.
  •  I was woken by a screaming crazy vagrant woman this morning across the street yelling "Rapist...Pedophile!" at the top of her lungs. Just sitting across the street. Sheesh,I'm sick of them coming down my strret hollering at the top of their lungs!
  • says, " We can't just get rid of these people. Guidance, help and love for your community.these are things that will help fix this issue"
    I disagree, we've invited by our generosity and compassion WAY too many people who have become parasites. Locals and Veterans should be the exception, the rest need to be turned away, bussed to Sacramento, or ???, to make them move on. Santa Cruz can not afford to sustain that population. I have a feeling our popularity as a Tourist destination has been surpassed by a Freeloading destination.
  •  Do UCSC students vote for city officials????
  • Don Lane Greetings to all,

    Yes I am human and do get frustrated when I feel attacked. I apologize for my sarcasm and defensiveness.

    Now I will be more straightforward and respectful.

    I have invited Mr. Peck to meet with me and will restate that offer now—without sarcasm.

    I will do my best to respond to harsh things that are said without sarcasm.

    I do not believe my support for homeless shelters, including the largest shelter which serves families with children, is the cause of heroin and crack addicts making terrible messes in the rocks on West Cliff and along the railroad tracks on the Westside. I have worked in the Rebele Family Shelter myself. It is a shelter for the entire area—not just for the city of Santa Cruz. (Funded by federal, state, county and city dollars.) It has an excellent record of moving families from homelessness into the shelter for a short stay and into permanent housing. Some of the parents in the families that stay in the shelter have histories of drug abuse and while families reside there, the shelter works with those parents substance abuse issues and requires drug testing.

    I think it is inappropriate to call out the name of the street I live on as though that has some bearing on the situation. I felt this was that a veiled threat and it is probably the reason I reacted poorly and inappropriately to the posting last night. If I have am mistaken about this concern, I apologize.

    I do deal with these issues on a regular basis. I respond not only to specific incidents that are highlighted by videos and web postings but also to the ongoing reports I get about crime and other problems that come to me through routine city channels. One example: I have been quite involved with community members, other councilmembers and city staff to improve the river levee, where similar problems have been identified. By most accounts we have made real gains in this area—though we have more to do and I continue to work on it with others.

    I completely accept that I have a major role as mayor in addressing these problems. It is also important to note that the job of mayor in Santa Cruz is not like the mayor of a large city. In the city manager/city council form of government we have in Santa Cruz, the mayor is the chairperson of the city council and not the chief executive of the city. The mayor’s office does not have any staff of its own. I do not have any formal authority over, for instance, the police chief and the police department. So, when I get contacted by Mr. Greiner with his video, I do not have the authority to order anyone to do anything. I share the info with the Parks Director and the Police Chief and ask them to respond. When they do actually respond I communicate that to the community.

    So the mayor’s role is to amplify the voices of members of the community and set policy for the city manager (who is the chief executive of the city) to implement and to be a source of information for community (which I think I do reasonably well, though I clearly fell short last night in my testy post to Mr. Peck.) As some have correctly noted in various posts, in many ways the buck stops with the city council and city councilmembers when it comes to city policies--- and in other instances the buck stops with the citizens of the community who choose city councilmembers.

    One posting asked that I reinforce the central role Mr. Greiner and his volunteer team had in cleaning up the mess he identified. I am happy to do that again, though I will point out that my first post in this thread was very explicit in highlighting that volunteers did the initial cleanup work.

    I invite any member of the community to contact me at dlane@cityofsantacruz.com if you would like to continue the conversation. I’m not always able to stay in these conversations for long periods… I frequently receive as many as 50 to 75 emails related to city business in a single day and I try to respond to many of these directly.

    Again, my apologies to those I offended, including Mr. Peak.

    Once we get past my ill-advised post, I hope we can work together to create solutions and strategies for dealing with the issues at hand… crime, drug abuse, homelessness.
  • Locked-On Photog ^ this guy is our mayor? one who has to apologize for being crude with sarcastic remarks... is there something wrong with professionalism now days, in a professional position higher than most in this community you would think you would graciously be as...
  • Dave Wade Locked ON, are you on call and always thoughtful, professional and courteous 24/7? I'd say don just got a pointed reminder about the immediacy and impact of the internet.
Brian December 13, 2012 at 04:26 AM
" How many people will have to die, be injured, threatened, stolen from before you figure out what's important?" -mr anonymous making thre4ats eh?
John Cohen May 25, 2013 at 10:22 AM
To view my invitation to former Mayor Don Lane for a public discussion about who funds, operates and administers the 180/180 project to make it open, transparent and accountable to applicants and the public, access it in Google Docs with the following link. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxTKPdmfF4X8ZHo4YXlxMk9xeTQ/edit?pli=1
Linda Ellen Lemaster May 26, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Brad why would you publish this without a preface note? Hillary Bryant has been Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz for six months now. Obviously, homelessness, and for that matter the uncivil abuses of housed people here, have deteriorated noticeably. There is a tangle in the flow ofthiss dated article as well, but more important (in terms of not adding to the ignorance quotient on this issue) is the detail that Don Lane is no longer Mayor. And since he left that office, has not the hyperbole and acrimony become amified? Please correct or clarify?
Linda Ellen Lemaster May 26, 2013 at 04:25 PM
meant amplified


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