Fish and wildlife officials attempt to catch the surfboard-stealing otter known as Otter 841.
(Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Officials’ Otter 841 dilemma, Joby’s roadmap and an unsung CZU rebuild helper

Top of the morning to you, coastal comrades. It is Thursday, July 20, and Santa Cruz County is in for a bit of a warmer stretch, with highs in the mid-90s in the mountains and the 70s closer to the bay once the marine layer pulls back.

I’m going to pull back the curtain on Lookout’s latest, but if you’d like to get right to it, here ya go.
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Max Chun has the latest on our celebrity sea mammal, reporting that even as local sentiment seems to be growing in favor of letting Otter 841 be, one marine biologist outlines the challenge facing wildlife officials looking to capture her. “There’s no way they can’t pick it up,” Randall Davis says. “Then the question is, ‘What are you going to do with it?’”

Joby Aviation is full speed ahead on its plans for electric air taxis, and the Santa Cruz County company got a clearer idea this week of when those plans might get off the ground with an update from federal regulators. Read on for Christopher Neely’s report on that.

And in Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, Bonny Doon resident Daniel DeLong writes about an unsung hero who came out of retirement to walk survivors of the 2020 CZU fire through the tangled rebuilding process — and takes a jab or two at local bureaucracy.

To the headlines ...

As ‘Free Otter 841' movement grows, expert warns that officials have little choice but to capture it

(Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

Although fish and wildlife officials continue efforts to capture the surfboard-stealing sea otter known as Otter 841 and bring her into captivity, local pushback is growing. Some Santa Cruzans and visitors want to see the otter remain in the wild: “I think the ocean belongs to the otter, so we should just let the otter be in her ocean,” said one. Max Chun has the latest.

MORE ON OTTER 841: Find all of Lookout’s coverage in one spot

Joby gets clearer timeline for when federal regulators will open skies to air taxis

CEO of Joby Aviation JoeBen Bevirt
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Federal Aviation Administration says electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft could be in commercial use by 2028, with some limited operations as early as 2025. Santa Cruz County native JoeBen Bevirt, founder of eVTOL industry leader Joby, has pushed for that earlier timeline to get his vision for an Uber-like air taxi service off the ground. Details here from Christopher Neely.

PREVIOUSLY: SFO in half an hour? Where will Joby’s takeoff end up taking us?


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Embroidery Workshop @Wallflower Santa Cruz
Zayante Fire Fundraiser @Felton Music Hall
Stephen Marley @The Catalyst Club
Bodhi Mojo @Woodhouse Blending & Brewing
Frequency Festival @Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Elks Oktoberfest @Santa Cruz Elks Lodge
Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza @Scotts Valley farmers market
Vegan Italian Cooking & Wine Pairing Class @Flipjack Ranch
Teen Kitchen Project Everett Farm Dinner @Everett Family Farm
Echos Of Empire @Civic Auditorium

For the love of dogs @Chaminade Resort & Spa
41st Santa Cruz Triathlon @Depot Park
Music at the park @Skypark
Jean Dawson @The Catalyst

And that’s what I know as we head down the stretch of another July week. If Thursday has you peeking ahead, you’re in luck: Among what’s coming later from Lookout is Wallace Baine’s latest Weekender, a recommendation-packed jaunt through Santa Cruz County’s arts and entertainment scene. Sign up here for that and all of our other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts via email and text. Another great way to stay current on local happenings is via our social media accounts — follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

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

Cheers to a solid Thursday — see you on the flip side.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz