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Hometown Hero: Senator Fran Pavley:

“The budget is a disaster. School cuts are just a tragedy. Higher tuition costs limit access for students and cost us our future.” State Senator Fran Pavley.

Fran, who represents Santa Monica in the California Senate, talks about the real cost of doing nothing to reduce global warming and the real cost of doing nothing to protect our environment in a ‘just the facts, Ma’am’ kind of way.

Her priority problems: the melting snow pack; the rising sea level; the effect of temperature on both human health and our crops; the loss of watersheds, wetlands and our water reliability.

As to the ‘Cost of Doing Nothing’ Fran says, “Opponents claim a false choice between the economy and the environment. The fact is the state will suffer tens of billions of dollars per year in direct costs to real estate assets alone due to sea level rise, wildfires, and to intense weather events.”

But with Fran there is no such thing as doing nothing. Famous for her groundbreaking legislation on curbing emissions from autos, she is equally adept at working on water quality as air quality and as Chair of the Natural Resources and Water Committee in the Senate she shepherded a comprehensive package of Water Bills and Bonds.

The bond money, if the bonds pass, will clean contaminated ground water; build the infrastructure to promote the use of recycled water; make money available for regional, integrated watershed management programs; provide funding for the reuse of stormwater; and, of importance to the LA Region, fund $50 million for the restoration of the Los Angeles River.

“The smartest, most cost effective strategies we can adopt for reducing our dependence on imported water are all based on local solutions, on infiltrating stormwater, conserving water, and reusing water.”

To make sure that local communities have the money to build the “green” parks and “green” streets that are necessary to reduce our dependence on imported water; to have the money for water conservation and for water recycling and reuse, Fran authored SB 790. Sponsored by Tree People, this bill would make any project that captured and reused stormwater eligible for existing or future bond funding.

“Maybe today I would study environmental sciences but when I went to college opportunities for women were limited. More, I liked teaching and it linked to the future and had the possibility of making a difference in the world – in that way it’s like politics.”

In the classroom or in Sacramento, Fran is always a teacher. Her 28 years in a middle school classroom and taking students on outdoor environmental education trips to the Sierras serves her well in her work in Sacramento. In the Assembly she authored an education bill, sponsored by Heal the Bay and signed into law by Governor Gray Davis, requiring all K-12 science textbooks to include age appropriate information on environmental principles. This work is ongoing and is funded by a multi-million dollar grant from the National Geographic Society.

Fran, a native Angelino, credits her family’s love of hiking and camping, the many childhood days she spent on Santa Monica beaches swimming and playing beach volleyball, and her sailing on a 102’ schooner as a Mariner Scout, with teaching her the importance of environmental protection. “I liked sports but spent most of my time in the water. I knew that DDT caused trouble for pelicans. I knew that there were days when we were kept inside for recess due to smog alerts, and I knew that the smog was worse in the warmer months of summer, but mostly I loved being outdoors.”

Her husband, Andy, now retired after 31 years of teaching 7th grade science; her daughter, Jenny, who went to college on a Title IX scholarship and, after a stint as a firefighter, is now studying to be a Physician’s Assistant; her son, David, who is in a supported work position for persons with autism; all share her love of the outdoors and her concern for the environment.

Protecting the environment, improving our educational system, and being a voice for special needs children and families are Fran’s focus as a Senator. She added serving on the Select Committee on Autism to her responsibilities as “this year saw terrible cuts to non-profits. The economy is in the tank and the State budget is tied to the economy.”

Since 1982 Fran has been in public office, first as both a Council Member and Mayor in Agoura Hills, then as an Assembly Member and now as a State Senator. Fran says she “hopes to have seven more years in the State Senate to work on the problems of global warming: the projected sea level rise of 20+ inches by the end of this century, the impact of warmer ocean temperatures, the economic impacts due to decreases in the $46 billion a year ocean-dependent tourist economy. Then we’ll see what’s next, maybe non-profit work. Whatever it will be it will be good, local work.”

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