County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes the site in the city of Palmdale, said property owners had been required to sell their land through eminent domain specifically for an airport, which was never built.
"The city should keep its promise...
or give the land back to its rightful owners," he said in a statement.
Los Angeles began buying the land in the 1970s for a global airport at a cost of more than $100 million. But demand failed to materialize and officials instead created a small regional airport by leasing adjacent land from the Air Force.
A handful of airlines have come and gone from the airport over the years. Palmdale officials have been trying to attract air service back to the city since United Airlines left in December.
"A solar farm. That is a far cry from an airport," Palmdale Mayor James Ledford said.
Backers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power proposal to build the solar facility on 4,000 largely undeveloped acres of the high desert property argue that it would generate up to 100 megawatts of clean energy.
"It would be like having the city's own power plant," said H. David Nahai, the utility's general manager.
Other advocates said the project would help the city comply with a major portion of Measure B, a proposition on the March 3 Los Angeles ballot that would require the city to generate 400 megawatts of electricity from solar installations by 2014.