First published in the July 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
After representing Burbank in the state Senate for six years, Sen. Anthony Portantino has moved to the city.
Portantino, a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident, has represented the 25th Senate District since 2016 and makes frequent appearances at local events. The district included Burbank until last year’s statewide redistricting process.
Portantino will continue to represent Burbank — along with another state senator whom voters will elect in November — 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 instruction election in 2026 and said in an interview that he would “entertain” the notion of running, though he added that he has not decided yet.
His move 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.
“Since we both love this community, it seemed like a great place to move to,” Portantino said.
Burbank residents could also see their state senator riding his bike around Magnolia Park and downtown — 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.
Portantino also said he will continue to emphasize public education, mental health resources, gun control and environmental protections during his last two years as a state legislator.
Last month, he appeared at a gun-control rally outside Burbank City Hall, during which he touted the laws he has authored restricting access to firearms.
The proposed laws include raising the firearms purchasing age to 21, though a court recently said that California could not ban younger adults from purchasing semiautomatic rifles, and strengthening gun storage rules.
He is also working with Gov. Gavin Newsom and fellow state Sen. Robert Hertzberg to pass a law that would allow private citizens to sue manufacturers and distributors of illegal weapons.
“California is the nation’s leader on gun control, and I’ve proudly been part of that effort [in] the past,” Portantino said. “I’ve been one of the leaders of that movement.”
As a state senator, Portantino has 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.
Also, he voted unsuccessfully against Senate Bill 35, now law, which prevents cities from denying certain housing projects unless they conflict with local regulations.
Last year, a developer submitted a proposal to convert the Pickwick Bowl site into 96 condominiums, which has faced intense opposition from Burbank’s Rancho neighborhood and the City Council, under SB 35.
After the Burbank City Council voted that the proposal was not eligible for SB 35’s provisions — a determination Portantino shares — both the developer and pro-housing advocacy group sued the city.
“One of the reasons I didn’t support SB 35 was because I knew that it would lead to this contentious fight, which it’s led to,” Portantino said. “I’d much rather have the parties work respectfully with each other rather than through the court.”
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.
“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.”