Palmdale Airport Fight
CNS–Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich Tuesday objected to a plan by the city of Los Angeles to build a solar energy plant next to the Palmdale Airport, saying it would hamper efforts to regionalize air service.
“For four decades, the city of Los Angeles has sat on property that it took from private property owners through eminent domain with the explicit promise to develop an airport,” Antonovich said. “Now they are attempting to use it for an energy plant to serve the city of Los Angeles.”
The Los Angeles Airport Commission voted Monday to award a three-year, $700,000 contract to find a developer to build the solar facility on 17,500 acres of vacant land adjacent to the small commuter airport, now closed.
Los Angeles World Airports, which leases the airport land from the U.S. Air Force, announced its intention to surrender its Federal Aviation Administration certification to operate out of Palmdale in January, and closed the facility in February.
The closure followed United Airlines’ cancellation of its four daily flights to San Francisco two months earlier, making it the eighth airline to come and go from the high desert terminal, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
Los Angeles County and Palmdale officials had hoped to gain control of airport operations and have been working to identify potential carriers to operate there.
While LAWA said operations were not economically feasible, Palmdale Mayor James Ledford has said fares were set too high and LAWA failed to attract a large market in the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, according to The Times.
However, the proposal to build a power plant on the adjacent land may thwart Palmdale’s plans.
The Board of Supervisors asked county counsel to determine whether LAWA has the legal right to build anything other than an airport on the property under a settlement agreement with the county to regionalize area airports and also under its original taking of the land through eminent domain.
It also asked the county’s chief executive officer to send a letter to LAWA, the Board of Airport Commissioners and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office seeking information on the plans for a solar power plant and their plans to comply with the settlement agreement.