Keeping up with Doug Jones

Ever since longtime Encinitas resident Doug Jones was a teenager in the Bay Area, it has always been his instinct to jump in and help where he saw a need.

Back then, going through a rough childhood in San Raphael and then experiencing the unrest that was the late 1960s and early 1970s in that area, jumping in often meant doing something dangerous.

Now, the causes Jones, 67, dives into are usually much safer. In the recent past he has served as the district governor for the Y’s Men, the major fundraising arm of the YMCA, among various other community service projects. He is currently active as a co-founder and advisor for the Encinitas Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), as well as the volunteer event organizer and MC for Encinitas Classic Car Cruise Nights.

Cruise Nights — free events where owners of classic cars cruise on down the Coast Hwy 101 in downtown Encinitas — are presented once a month throughout the summer, continuing July 21, August 18 and Sept. 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Cruise Nights has been around since 1998, when a couple of Encinitas residents got tired of traveling somewhere else to go check out classic cars. Jones took over as event organizer in 2010.

“Driving down here is like driving in a postcard,” said the personable commercial large water feature and environmental design builder. “And so when you get into Encinitas, walking La Paloma and the plaques that say 1910 (and see the classic cars) … people love it. It’s a big block party.

“When people land here from Europe or way out of state, and they come to Cruise Night … they think that they just walked into a movie set. This is America.”

Jones also serves the community in his role as founding member of CERT, a program designed to educate people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

When asked why this cause was important to him, Jones didn’t launch into a doomsday spiel, instead he remembered a heartbreaking story from his teenage years camping in the Russian River. He and a friend helped a family pull a young boy out of the river and with none of them having any recent CPR training — and an ambulance coming from too far away — the boy didn’t make it.

“That made an indelible impression on me,” Jones said.

“When the city was done with (the one-time FEMA-sponsored CERT) academy ... I had enough sense to know that if you learn these skills and don’t practice them, they are gone in six months,” Jones continued. “We only have 53 first responders in a city of 60,000. You get more people that are at least somewhat, limitedly prepared, who can look out for themselves, people at their work, their family, it’s just better odds.

“After going through the academy, everyone is just a little more heads-up about everything around them. And that’s always a good thing.”

So in 2008, Jones teamed with several other local residents to create the nonprofit organization Encinitas CERT, which provides opportunities for those that went through the original academy to maintain and build on those skills, while also reaching out to even more members of the community.

Jones estimates that around 175 people who live or work in Encinitas have been completely through the academy and 200 more have been through at least part of it.

Those people and any other interested residents can stay sharp with their training or get introduced to some of the concepts through CERT’s “Are you ready?” Encinitas programs. These one-hour events gather small groups of neighbors for training that is customized to the most likely events that could lead to community-wide disaster.

To become an official member of CERT — a group that could be called upon to work with the fire department in the event of a local disaster — citizens must pass a background check through homeland security and maintain in good standing by doing a documented minimum amount of training each year.

Jones said he’s talked with former fire chief and current Encinitas city councilman Mark Muir, who has praised his group’s leadership and thorough, step-by-step approach.

“The key is for our people to remain viable, not just have a card that is two years old,” Jones said.

The Encinitas group’s leadership and strong organization is part of the reason it is one of just two CERT chapters in the county to receive a donated Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) converted from a former working ambulance.

“It’s really a rolling incident command center,” Jones said. “It has a tremendous infostructure built into it … (including) a full complement of up-to-date communications gear. It’s stocked with canopies, waste removal and water filtration.”

The current president of Encinitas CERT is Doan Hohmeyer and interested people who live or work in Encinitas can visit

Former CERT president Jones came south to San Diego in the early 1970s after sending a letter to the president of San Diego State to gain admittance.

He moved to Encinitas in 1976 and has been married to his wife Cindy for 40 years. The happy couple has three grown sons — Sean, Ryan and Brandt — and five grandchildren.

Jones has always been a fan of classic cars, and even raced them a bit on tracks and streets in his younger days. He purchased his own 1956 Chevy convertible as a junior in high school and bought an original ‘41 Chevy panel truck and a ’55 Chevy pickup soon after. By the time he came down south, he had sold those cars to buy a 1965 Malibu convertible and three motorcycles.

Jones has owned around 15 classic cars in his life, but his contributions to the Encinitas community are worth more than all of them combined.