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Supervisors: L.A. solar project threatens Palmdale Airport

Posted: November 18, 2009 2:19 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2009 3:16 p.m.
LOS ANGELES - "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," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose district includes the Santa Clarita Valley. "Now they are attempting to use it for an energy plant to serve the city of Los Angeles."

On Dec. 16, 2008, the Board of Supervisors sent a five-signature letter to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners and the Los Angeles Mayor's office. The letter was the county's formal request that the city set forth, in detail, its future plans for the undeveloped property located in the unincorporated area of the county adjacent to the Palmdale Airport.

This request was made subsequent to the conclusion of the county's successful lawsuit requiring LAWA to develop a plan for regionalization of air service in Los Angeles County.

However, on Nov. 16, 2009, the Los Angeles Airport Commission voted to award a three-year, $700,000 contract to secure a developer to build a solar energy plant on the 17,500 acres of vacant Los Angeles city-owned land.

Neither the city of Palmdale nor the county of Los Angeles was ever notified of the city's intention to develop the land into anything other than an airport.

Moreover, the city of Los Angeles used eminent domain to acquire some of the parcels in the 17,500 acres solely for use as an airport.

The city of Palmdale and the county of Los Angeles have been working together to identify potential airlines to operate at the Palmdale Airport once the LAWA lease expires.

However, LAWA's recent effort could place a chilling effect on the multi-jurisdictional efforts to provide regional air service to serve Los Angeles County.

On Nov. 17, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Antonovich that directs the county counsel to report back to the board on whether the recent action of LAWA to change the use of the airport property is within the county settlement agreement. 

The issue is regarding regionalization and they need to examine the legality of using eminent domain to take private property for one purpose and using it for another.

It also directs the chief executive officer to transmit a letter to LAWA, the city of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, and the mayor's office seeking information on their planned usage as a solar plant and how they intend to comply with the settlement agreement.


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