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Ellen Stern Harris

Nov. 2, 1929 — Jan. 2, 2006

Ellen Stern Harris, a longtime activist on behalf of the environment, good government and many other public-interest causes, passed away on January 2, 2006, after a battle with cancer that sapped her body but not her spirit. She was at home with her family and friends.

She leaves her brother, Fred Stern; her son, Tom Harris; and her daughter, Jane Harris, Jane's husband Michael Baumannn, and their son, Tom Baumann.

Ellen's life was celebrated on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006,
at Greystone Mansion.

If you would like to add your remembrances, please do so.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in her name
be made to Fund For the Environment,
PO Box 228, Beverly Hills, CA 90213

to support the archiving at UCLA of Ellen's papers.

The Los Angeles Times obituary is here.

Ellen, editor of The Beverly Hills Citizen and founder and executive director of Fund For The Environment, received many well-deserved honors. Among these was a salute from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on October 2, 2004. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a friend and supporter, delivered an address which captured the highlights of Ellen's work as a public citizen.

Following is an excerpt of his address.

"I asked Ellen Stern Harris to come down this morning so that we could celebrate her 75th birthday with her. I know everyone on this Board knows Ellen Stern Harris is the founder and Executive Director of The Fund for The Environment. She is a third-generation resident of Beverly Hills, and a longstanding civil leader and environmental activist.

"Ellen has been prominently involved in water quality and coastal protection issues for many, many years, and was co-author of Proposition 20, an initiative passed by the state’s voters in 1972 that created the California Coastal Act. She served as Vice Chair of the State Coastal Commission for its first four years.

Less than a month before she died, Ellen was saluted by friends in the environmental movement. A Times reporter was on hand.

"She previously served on the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, where she helped to clean up the heavily polluted Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, and worked to strengthen the State’s water quality laws for the first time in 22 years.

"She was the lead amicus in the federal lawsuit to clean up the Santa Monica Bay, and represented the City of Beverly Hills and the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. There she advocated for a fair rate structure, so that residential rate payers would not have to subsidize agricultural and other commercial water users.

"She also served on the City of Beverly Hills’ first Recreation and Parks Commission, and served on the city’s Cable Television Advisory Committee. She currently serves on the city’s Technology Committee.

"She has taught public policy at UCLA, and was named Woman of The Year by The Los Angeles Times, where she wrote a consumer advocate column for seven years.

"She has been recognized for her work with awards from The Sierra Club, The Audubon Society and the United Nations Association.

"Ellen, you are a model of civic involvement. If we had 10 people like you in this County, it would be a different kind of place."

To see some of Ellen's work, please look through the Beverly Hills Citizen.


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