Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 12:52 am | Fair 49º


Local News

Lane Anderson’s Council Campaign Offers Different Perspective

Santa Barbara boat-dweller describes his reliance on neighborhood produce exchanges as communication, and understanding needs of residents

Lane Anderson isn’t Santa Barbara’s typical city council candidate. He doesn’t have a phone. Or a computer. He lives on a boat in the harbor with his dog, Betsy, and checks his e-mail every few days on public computers at the library or SBCC. Although he isn’t as connected in more traditional ways, Anderson’s platform is entirely dependent on community.

His campaign strategy relies largely on the concept of “neighborhood exchanges,” with which he’s been involved for years. These gatherings take place with a group of friends or neighbors who exchange produce they’ve grown and get to know each other in the process. He’s been known to ride his bike to these exchanges, with fresh produce that he raises in tow. These exchanges are also crucial to another unique strategy: he doesn’t plan to raise any money campaigning.

“I’m there to learn your experience and your opinion on what should be done at the city,” he said. “If that works, then I won’t need money.”

Anderson said he first noticed the need for community while he worked as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier on the Mesa for 14 years before retiring. His observation that people tend to stay isolated has reinforced the importance of the exchanges for him, he said.

Anderson’s home is also on the Mesa; he’s given it to his sons while he lives on his boat. When he’s not sailing the seas, Anderson cultivates more than 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables on the family’s property, and is involved with neighborhood exchanges around the city.

Other Santa Barbara residents may also recognize Anderson as an instrumental force behind Arlington West, which began in 2003. The thousands of white crosses on the beach adjacent to Stearns Wharf were erected every week in memory of those who had given their lives in military service. Anderson organized a demonstration that was respectful of what U.S. troops were working to accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Arlington West was born out of brainstorming between local veterans and a carpenter, Stephen Sherrill.

A Vietnam veteran, Anderson worked as a Navy weapons specialist on a destroyer and said he served before he was 20 years old. Two of Anderson’s friends were killed during his service, and when he returned stateside he immediately became involved with Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

“I finally gave meaning to their deaths by saying that they died so that we would learn our lesson and not do it again,” he said. When the Iraq war began, Anderson saw a parallel between the wars and began protesting.

Along with helping to maintain Arlington West over the years, Anderson said his run for council was inspired after he helped with President Obama’s campaign. Afterward, he went to El Salvador to serve as an elections observer for the country’s elections in January and March, and “witnessed the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history.”

“That got me thinking about change,” he said.

On a local level, Anderson said he thinks the city should give incentives for green businesses, and do more to make sure they stay environmentally sound. “People that come in with hand tools and do maintenance gardening in a different way should be given the advantage, perhaps a free business permit, if they’re fossil-fuel free,” he said.

Anderson also stressed the need to house people.

“One of the keys to our budget is going to be housing,” he said. Because the current city code mandates that every unit contain a kitchen and bathroom, he said he’d like to see more communal housing built. “We need to design our housing as co-housing,” he said. “We’re getting more and more isolated ... I don’t think it’s even good for people.’‘

Anderson’s campaign manager is Dan Litten, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2007 on an environmental platform.

Anderson admits he’s making a statement by running.

“If I get elected, I’m willing to serve, but I want to make a good showing just to show people that you don’t need to raise a lot of money,” he said.

Anderson said he may even get a cell phone as he continues to campaign, but that he can always be found exchanging produce with neighbors.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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