A posted sign warning surfers of the aggressive otter lurking in the waters off Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Surf otter evades capture, big West Cliff condo plan clears hurdle & water solutions

Well, well, well ... here we are again, ready to tackle another day. It’s Thursday, July 13, and folks in the Santa Cruz Mountains will get a taste of the heat wave starting to bake inland areas as temps warm into the 90s, while it’ll be in the 80s and 70s closer to the bay.

More the solo adventuring type? This way to Lookout’s latest.
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The sea otter that has captured national attention for stealing surfboards at Santa Cruz’s renowned Steamer Lane surf break has so far eluded attempts by fish and wildlife officials to capture it. “Your safest bet is just to abandon ship, I suppose,” one surfer who’s tangled with the celebrity mammal tells Max Chun. “It’s better to let the board go than get bitten.”

A large condo project proposed for nearby along West Cliff Drive can move forward, Christopher Neely reports, after the California Coastal Commission denied an appeal by a group of local residents. Save Santa Cruz Westside had argued that the development adjacent to the Dream Inn went against city land-use rules.

Santa Cruz County’s largest school district has a new leader, Hillary Ojeda reports, with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District turning to former district teacher and administrator Murry Schekman on an interim basis following the departure of Michelle Rodriguez.

And in Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, the director of the City of Santa Cruz’s water department relays what she told Congress in recent testimony before a Senate committee. Maintaining affordability for all and investing in flagging infrastructure are crucial, Rosemary Menard writes.

Without further delay, Thursday’s headlines:

Santa Cruz’s surfboard-stealing sea otter is still at large

(Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

The 5-year-old female southern sea otter has been exhibiting unusual aggressive behavior toward surfers over the past month around Steamer Lane. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is searching for the animal to bring it into captivity, but as of Wednesday evening, agents had not yet secured the otter. Max Chun has the latest.

MORE: With world’s major kelp forests in jeopardy, sea otters coming to the rescue in Monterey Bay

West Cliff condo project can move forward after Coastal Commission denies appeal

Resident group Save Santa Cruz Westside had long lobbied against the proposed four-story, 47-foot tall mixed-use development with 89 residential units adjacent to the Dream Inn, arguing that it was inconsistent with the city’s land-use plan for the local coastal zone. Details here from Christopher Neely.

CHANGING SANTA CRUZ: Lookout’s ongoing series covering downtown development


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Food Truck Friday @Skypark
Mountain Film on Tour Santa Cruz @Rio Theatre
Roosevelt @The Catalyst

Out of The Darkness Santa Cruz County Walk @Skypark
Community Crafters-Basic Earring Making Workshop @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Farm Dinner @1481 San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Big Mountain @Moe’s Alley
MaMuse, WildChoir & The Feelings Parade @Rio Theatre

Halloween Pop-up Event @Little Trends
Rail & Trail Festival @Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
David Luning @Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Marc E. Bassy @The Catalyst

And that’s just a taste of what this Thursday holds from Lookout — among what’s still coming this Bastille Day Eve (I mean, that’s gotta be what all the folks still shooting off fireworks are practicing for, oui?) is Weekender, Wallace Baine’s weekly survey of Santa Cruz County’s arts and entertainment scene. That will arrive in inboxes presently, and you can get in on that and all of Lookout’s newsletters, plus breaking news alerts, by clicking over here. And for you social butterflies, find Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay current.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Stay hydrated and have a good Thursday, friends.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz