The Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center is a newly established 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation that will function as a host entity, providing space and resources to existing programs and organizations working to advance sustainable living practices through demonstration, education, research, and community collaboration.
Located next to the townsite of New Cuyama in the northeast corner of Santa Barbara County, the Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center has been established on the site of the Cuyama Airport, its adjacent buildings, and surrounding acreage.
Our mission is to provide a place, at low cost, for applied education, technical research, demonstration, and community collaboration of sustainable living best practices and technologies
We envision a world in which research and innovation together with applied education work together to enhance the vitality of our ecological, economic, and social systems.
We are currently identifying qualified and talented Board of Directors and Advisory Board candidates to lead the organization into the future. We will be announcing our preliminary members when they are selected.
Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center features 22,000 SF of existing, well-constructed tilt-up concrete buildings. The intent is to repurpose these structures for program needs.
Cold Storage & Theatre
Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center intends to provide space and resources for the research, education and demonstration of alternative, sustainable building technologies and techniques. BSSLC will be a place for innovators, designers, builders, general public, and local governmental agencies to converge and collaborate on economical alternative technologies standards, with the ultimate goal of developing a pathway towards permitting new structures.
The dry, high desert climate of the Cuyama Valley provides excellent year round growing conditions for a wide range of crops. Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center will explore options to develop a self-sustaining organic, educational cooperative farm managed by a few full time staff and participating students ranging from youth to adults. Blue Sky will also feature animal keeping facilities, horticulture facilities and will emphasize research projects toward sustainable food production systems, technologies, and methodologies.
The Cuyama Valley boasts abundant year-round blue skies and sunshine translating to ideal conditions for solar systems. The Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center currently generates 10kW of clean power and has 16,500 SF of additional rooftop availability. Facilities at the Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center can be used as a regional training destination for growing jobs in the clean energy sector, including solar photovoltaic and thermal design, installation, and maintenance. The Center will also look to demonstrate emerging active and passive solar and technologies and techniques that harvest and work with the most abundant resource available, the sun. Blue Sky is also an excellent location for research, development and education of other renewable energy systems, including wind, hydrogen, battery technologies and more.
The rustic setting and starry night skies will make the Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center an ideal destination location for youth summer camps, group retreats, K-12 field trips and engaging after-school and weekend programs. The Center will focus on providing the space at low or no cost for underserved and underrepresented urban populations, exposing youth to the beauty and mystique of the natural world. Summer camps will challenge young people and will focus on developing hands-on learning, problem solving skills, and a passion for environmental stewardship.
Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center’s existing industrial facilities provide an excellent location for trades educational and vocational certification in various fields. Blue Sky will look to partner with other non-profits, academic institutions, and the private sector to host programs that provide the skills and training needed in today’s workforce. These training programs will range from construction technology and auto mechanics to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) training.
The Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center will host periodic events around onsite programs and projects and the overall sustainability movement. The center will also make the site available to limited private group and organizational retreats.
In May of 2013 Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center established an organic community garden on the facility grounds. The space is growing and developing and currently has over 20 active and enthusiastic members. The Community Garden is run and operated independently as a grassroots, community organization while Blue Sky continues to lend the group space and resources so it can thrive.
Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center will seek to partner with community non-profits, public agencies, and the private sector to provide resources and space for community programs and amenities that will serve to enrich the local area and its residents.
The Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center’s current master plan includes open space and amenities for the local residents to be included and active with the long-term development goals of the site. Through community meetings and collaborative, the Blue Sky staff and design team will look to listen and incorporate, to the extent possible, ideas important to the local residents and community leaders.
The Blue Sky site has a long and varied history. Established during the first oil boom in the Cuyama Valley, the site was repeatedly re-imagined by entrepreneurial humanitarian and environmental visionaries.
On January 1, 1948 a wildcatter named George Hadley, who had been oil prospecting in the valley for 10 years, made the first oil strike in the Cuyama Valley. Richfield Oil Company soon moved in and extracted nearly 300 million barrels of oil in just a few short years. To accommodate an exploding workforce in the early 1950s, the company built the town of New Cuyama, its infrastructure, public buildings, the Cuyama airstrip (L88) and all the industrial structures that are now home to Blue Sky. Richfield Oil Company, later merging with Atlantic Oil Company forming the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO), created high-paying jobs, a safe and prosperous community, and developed schools, churches and recreational areas for the employee-residents.
With dwindling production in the area and new discoveries in Alaska, Atlantic-Richfield Oil Company put the town of New Cuyama and its associated infrastructure up for sale. Word of an entire town for sale made it’s way to entrepreneur, Russell O’Quinn of the Foundation for Airborne Relief (FAR) and Mildred Dotson, a wealthy widow from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two worked together to acquire the townsite and adjacent land. O’Quinn, an aviator, inventor and test pilot, aspired to use the New Cuyama airstrip and facilities as a base for humanitarian relief and a non-profit trade school. Though not fully realized,
FAR’s primary vision included utilizing converted military aircraft to airlift food and medical supplies to
developing countries and global disaster areas. Dotson had loftier goals.
Her plans included an 18-hole fly-in golf course, expansion
of the Buckhorn Restaurant and Motel, and a 40 to 50 acre
lake for amphibian landing and water sports.
In 1986, another visionary, Harry Kislevitz, inventor of the popular design tool Colorforms® and founder of Future City/Villages International, sought to develop the site as a “City of Friendship”, an all-electric village of 5,000 earthen homes.
The dwellings were to be designed by Nader Khalili, an Iranian-born architect who specialized in earthen structures, worked with NASA on prototypes for lunar homes and received an award from the United Nations for his work towards the development of low cost, sustainable structures for human shelter in impoverished and disaster prone environments. One 400-sq-ft Khalili prototype remains on the property today. Khalili went on to form the California Institute for Earth Art and Architecture, Cal-Earth, in Hesperia, CA.
Recognizing the transformative potential of clean, solar power and the attractiveness of a rural destination, entrepreneur, Mike Nolan, worked to develop the Solar Skypark and Big Sky Guest Ranch with Santa Barbara Architect, Barry Berkus.
The Sky Park included plans for sixty-five fly-in residences on one-acre lots powered completely from clean, solar energy. The Big Sky Guest Ranch was intended to function as a clubhouse for Skypark residents complete with an equestrian center, a small subsistence farm, pool and plenty of enriching recreational activities.
At the end of 2011, the Zannon Family Foundation made a long-term investment in acquiring the New Cuyama Airport property with the vision of rehabilitating the site to be a low cost resource for programs and organizations working to advance sustainable living practices and technologies.
Plans began soon after towards developing a framework and organization to develop the space and coordinate with prospective programs and institutions. Today, development is on track with infrastructure and capital improvements ongoing and plans to submit a package for approval of the facility for conditional use as a non-profit trade school. In the meantime, the newly formed 501c3 Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center will identify and outreach to existing programs, organizations and institutions that will help shape the long term vision of the site.
New Cuyama Airport (L88) is a privately owned, public-use, day-use general aviation airport located in rural Santa Barbara County. The runway and supporting facilities were originally constructed by the Richfield Oil Company in 1950.
Business Opportunities & Inquiries
Landings & Inquiries
Owner: Eugene Zannon (805) 962-5025
Airport Manager: Philip Jankoski (805) 962-5025
Subscribe to the Cuyama Airport newsletter to receive updates on the renovation process.
Zannon Foundation / Blue Sky Sustainable Living Center
PO Box 21957
Santa Barbara, CA 93121