First published in the July 15 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
After living in La Cañada Flintridge since 1994, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, whose district includes South Pasadena, has moved to Burbank.
Portantino, whose daughters received their entire K-12 educations through the LCF school system, has represented the 25th Senate District since 2016 and makes frequent appearances at events there. He will continue to represent his district until the end of his term in 2024.
The term will be the former LCF mayor’s last in the state Legislature. Portantino has formed a campaign committee for the state superintendent of public instruction election in 2026 and said in an interview that would he “entertain” the notion of running, though he added that he has not decided yet.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in the Legislature, and really, really loved getting to know the community and trying to represent the people to the best of my ability,” Portantino said, “and I hope to continue in some form of public service or education post-[Senate] because my passion really is for kids, and if there’s an opportunity to serve kids after the Senate, I’m going to take that seriously.”
His decision to sell his LCF home and move to Burbank this week, he added, was inspired by a desire to be closer to the Hollywood Burbank Airport, from which he flies to Sacramento twice a week. Living in Burbank also allows his wife, Ellen, a veteran film studio executive and consultant, to be closer to work.
In South Pasadena, one of Portantino’s most consistent involvements has been to help return homes owned by the California Department of Transportation for its canceled 710 Freeway tunnel project back to the city. His Senate Bill 381, passed last year, accelerated the process.
“I worked very closely with the Freeway Fighters for 25 years,” Portantino said, referencing the group of residents who led the opposition to Caltrans’ project. Some of them, he added, had been opposing the plan for several decades. “I was a newcomer.”
It’s also not uncommon to see Portantino traveling through his constituent cities and Sacramento by bike — an activity Portantino said he picked up about a year and a half ago after undergoing bariatric surgery.
Five-mile bike rides soon turned into 30-mile treks, and now — after losing about 160 pounds — he says he rides every day.
In his last two years as a state legislator, Portantino said he will continue to emphasize public education, mental health resources, gun control and environmental protections. He proposed a bill that would provide state funding to schools based on average daily enrollment rather than attendance, and another bill that would help provide grants to high schools for student wellness centers.
Portantino has also sometimes broken with his fellow Democrats on a number of issues, especially regarding housing bills.
In 2019, he stopped a bill that would have boosted housing around transit centers and jobs-rich areas, but reduced the amount of control cities have over development.
Portantino said he will often go see his friends and neighbors — and his other constituents — in LCF, but that he and his wife are excited to call Burbank home. And even after his time as a state legislator is over, he hopes to remain involved with community service.
“They’re really small towns and I think that’s what I love about my district,” he added. “It’s just been an honor to represent communities, get to know communities, and at the end of the day, I’m just a dad who lives down the street, and that’s sort of how I approach my job.”