Lani Faulkner, candidate for District 1

Lani Faulkner is one of two candidates running for the District 1 Santa Cruz County supervisor seat in the March 5 election. The district includes Live Oak, Pleasure Point, Soquel, Soquel hills, part of Capitola and the Summit area east of Highway 17. Read about the other candidate in this race, Manu Koenig.

Lani Faulkner (Contributed)

Meet Lani Faulkner

Age: 55.

Residence: Live Oak.

Occupation: Scientist and small business owner.

Experience: Faulkner is the founder and director of Equity Transit, an advocacy group for public transit and affordable housing. Faulkner has worked as a community college professor in biology, physiology and other subjects, and she has worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Faulkner participated in a successful campaign against Measure D in 2022 with Friends of the Rail and Trail. She has worked with the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission and the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience.  “I think the role of [county] supervisor is one of the generalists,” Faulkner said. “What really is an advantage is someone who has a broad, wide variety of experiences.”

Read about Lani Faulkner’s positions:

How can the county supervisors help fund and facilitate more affordable housing? And where in your district would you support more density?

Faulkner said she participated in meetings related to the Santa Cruz County Housing Element of the General Plan.

Lani Faulkner: “What I was really excited to see was that of the community of people that participated in that Housing Element, almost all of them agreed that as we start to build more housing, we need to focus on building it near transportation corridors. That’s a personal philosophy of mine, but I was really excited to see that reflected in other community members. That’s critical, of course, because we need to build in places that will get people out of their car — so that you’re not tied to your car to get to work or to school or to wherever you need to go. 

“In terms of where that best is located, currently, that’s really centered around Live Oak, primarily Aptos, some of these areas that are along the Soquel corridor. Brommer Street, Capitola Road, and, of course, a future rail corridor. 

“I think we have to look at the economics of how we build. A lot of people don’t realize that the farther you build from the hubs of your community, the more and more expensive it gets to, let’s say, support a new house that’s 10 miles out on a really secluded road. It’s a beautiful place to live, but if that is going to be serviced by public services, it becomes astronomically more expensive to do that. As they allow that kind of sprawl, it becomes really, really expensive over time to maintain those facilities.”

Should the county supervisors help residents with rent stabilization or rent help? If so, how?

Lani Faulkner: “Absolutely, 100%. Maybe they undergo a medical emergency or a job emergency, and then they can’t pay rent for a period of time, and then they’re at risk for being kicked out of their house. It ends up costing our entire county more money over time, if they fall into houselessness and have to go through all the processes, and then we have to try to get them whatever wraparound services and try to move them into a transitional home. It ends up costing us more money than just simply helping to bridge that gap.

“By the same token, this is a little different, but some of these [security] deposit amounts [for rentals] are just outrageous. Imagine $3,000 to $5,000 that you have to come up with for your rental deposit? So having an account that allows us to help people with that so that they can get into a home makes that much easier.”

What specific short- and long-term strategies would you support to address homelessness?

Lani Faulkner: “With homelessness, the long term is about getting more affordable housing. The short term is more transitional housing, but also Project Homekey and Housing First models. 

“Of course, we have emergencies, our fastest growing sector of homelessness are seniors, people on fixed income. Those are folks that need that affordable low-income, very-low income sector of housing. But then there’s a lot of people who might be experiencing mental illness or other issues where they need other services. So having those complete wraparound services where the person is identified, tracked, and really, every person should be at the center of their treatment and service so they don’t fall out of the system.”

Some District 1 residents are upset with crime, drug use and litter. How can county supervisors help residents feel safer? 

Lani Faulkner:With regards to crime, I think that the more that we can get people off the streets and into housing, we’re going to see a reduction of crime. 

“We can do other things too, at the superficial level, which is, hey, let’s have a cleanup weekend together, we’ll all get out and do a cleanup. We’ll address what I call ‘Band- Aids,’ right? OK, we’re going to deal with the immediacy of this acute issue of the garbage being here. But then the underlying issue of what’s leading to the crime, or what’s leading to the garbage or the problems that we’re seeing. 

“So if it’s just someone throwing out garbage as they’re going on a hike, we can put a garbage can where people are hiking, so that instead of throwing it on the ground, they can throw it in the garbage can. If there are more systemic issues, as we alluded to, with housing and homelessness, then we have to address those more systemic issues.”

Many District 1 residents said they want traffic relief. What can the county supervisors do to reduce traffic and facilitate cycling and walking in District 1?

Lani Faulkner: “This is really huge, because I hear it all the time. Statements from families who are like, ‘My kids can’t bike to school anymore, it’s not safe.’ 

“There are a number of things we can do. We need to prioritize infrastructure that saves lives. And we know how to do it, we just have to start implementing and prioritizing that. Things like bulb-outs. Those triggers for the stoplights for the bicycles should work. So if you’re on a bike, you’re going to trigger a little light to be safe to cross or to make a turn. 

“I went to Santa Clara and San Jose and I saw some of the most amazing infrastructure that basically slows down traffic on our surface streets. You can have zoning changes that have 15-minute walkable communities, so that a lot of your needs can be met within a 15-minute walk or bike within your community. Creating safe streets is critical.”

Read why Lani Faulkner is running for county supervisor

Important local issues

Faulkner said that elderly and disabled communities talked to her about a lack of representation at the county level. She said it made her want to get involved and be a “voice for the voiceless.”

“They were really upset about changes that were made at the county level and representation with the current incumbent in my district — that for some reason he was making changes that really disempowered them, their voice and their ability to affect change for their needs.” For this and other reasons such as her familiarity with environmental science, she became involved as an advocate for the rail trail.

What is your dream for the Santa Cruz community? 

Faulkner said she believes in an empathetic approach to leadership. “My philosophy is that this is about bringing us all together,” she said. “What that means to me is that we’re all listening to each other’s perspectives.”

Fun fact about Faulkner

“I’m a classically trained opera singer, a lot of people don’t know that,” she said. She said she is also an avid mountain biker and has coached mountain biking for seven years.

Campaign finances

See campaign contributions to Lani Faulkner and all local candidates.


See Lani Faulkner’s endorsements.