The Sea Shanty suffers the wrath of SLO County

October 11, 2020

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin.


I ran into Bill Shea, owner of the Sea Shanty restaurant in Cayucos, and he was irate over the results of my article in Cal Coast News about his creativity, originality and eccentric personality of the protective hay bale barricades protecting his outdoor diners.

Bill was not irate with me. He liked the article. Bill is also an old friend, somebody I genuinely like and the last person whose business I’d want to hurt. Hell, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s business, especially now during a pandemic, when everybody is struggling. Doing so has made me feel like a pariah and churned in my gut.

But I felt that in a small beach burg like Cayucos, trying desperately to hang on to its quirkiness in the face of radical gentrification and the overwhelming infusion of wealthy, boring, entitled stiffs, I might highlight Bill’s charming effort to help beautify our surroundings in a way that does not blend with the sterile building going up everywhere.

Bill is one of our last genuine characters. And the Sea Shanty is a Cayucos treasure, a joint most people who visit me want to go to because it oozes the comfort of another time, a time when simple casual diners wanted good solid American food in an environment where they could talk loudly and belly laugh and feel a freedom to utterly be themselves as they chowed down.

But then there is officialdom, and the sticklers inhabiting it, who spend their lives hell bent on enforcing petty rules and restrictions. Bill told me that the person who read my article reacted with anger and informed Bill he would have to replace his hay bales with expensive K-railings or water filled barricade systems.

And Bill would have to pay the price. Had I not written such an article, the person reading it probably would never been made aware of Bill’s hay bales and nothing certainly would have gone wrong. And Bill’s pockets would not have to be picked.

I suppose the person who read my article disdained the idea of Bill taking matters into his own hands, and also felt the part about the hay bales protecting the Shanty’s diners from being crashed in upon or visited by “bicycle riders, car drivers, teenage skateboarders, dogs, or stupid drunks aroused by the cloying aromas emanating from kitchens” placed diners in potentially tragic danger.

That is hardly so.

But I guess in America we need barricades. This is not a safe country anymore. We need protection along with strict conformity at all times. I wonder if in France and Italy and Greece and Spain and other European countries, where al fresco dining has gone on in sidewalk cafes as tradition for centuries, and infuses diners with a sense of festivity, if big ugly block-like barricades would be accepted or reviled as anathema to eclectic atmosphere.

I felt the simplicity and personal individuality of Bill’s hay bales and Carol’s flowers and plants upon them was a creation that again signified Cayucos as one of the last unique places on the coast, a last outpost where we could get away with a few minor infringements. And we could have a few laughs about small town goofiness. That’s all I wanted to portray.

But no. Officialdom prevails; and those in it have the last word. Which means Bill Shea pays the price for boring, ugly, no-personality barricades like everybody else in San Luis Obispo County.

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Shocked in MB

“3 pedestrians dead, 4 injured in Honolulu when truck driver plows through busy intersection”

We know things happen -do we now put up barricades across intersections?? I think that may cause some problems. Where do we draw the line?


do we now put up barricades across intersections?

No, but you try and best mitigate harm to pedestrians and other less venerable road users with road design, while still making sure vehicles can move efficiently. It’s always a balance. That is the purpose of lights, signals, crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic calming measures, speed limits, etc. You’ll never completely get rid of car accidents, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths to road users.

And ultimately pedestrians, crossing at an intersection still have some control and personal responsibility over their situation. If they pay attention they can see a vehicle speeding towards the intersection and hopefully avoid it. Diners eating al fresco on the street on the other had are sitting ducks that have no control over the situation if a car is coming their way.

Where do we draw the line?

Seems like drawing the line where it already is — making restaurants put adequate barriers in place to protect outdoor diners exposed to vehicular traffic is a good start.

Toll Free

And as if on queue…

Today in San Jose, Ca a car ran through an eatery outside. Early reports are 8 people are injured.



Absolutely. All the people in here saying restaurants shouldn’t have to install barriers to protectdiners watch the video of what happened in San Jose

Downtown Bob

The building right across hwy one from the sea shanty had to put concrete k rail up when they built by order of the county at great expense for a six inch drop to gravel, while simultaneously the county literally had yellow ribbons protecting their missing guard rail that dropped six feet down less than 59 yards to the south in front of the grocery store. I guarantee this was a county inspector that got wind of this and imposed these officious rules. And by the way Dell, it really isn’t the entire USA that has this safety problem, it literally is only Coastal California, Idaho Texas, Nevada, and even Northern California doesn’t do this type of BS . Great article for a change, I hope you can can see why so many of us are not for more Government Regulations,


Bill told me that the person who read my article reacted with anger and informed Bill he would have to replace his hay bales with expensive K-railings or water filled barricade systems.

Isn’t it a good thing that the person went directly to the business owner and informed them they were in violation of a rule they were not aware about? And the business owner was able to rectify the issue without getting fined, shut down, or sued.

Just imagine if you didn’t write the article and nobody told the guy that he wasn’t allowed to use hay bales for a barrier. And a car went through the hay bales and injured one of his customers. The guy would have lost his business and have been sued for everything he owns.




No I’m not kidding. It’s basic tort law. If a customer was injured/killed the business would be found negligent and liable for damages which can easily be millions of dollars.

Spending a few hundred dollars on some plastic barriers is a much cheaper option for the restaurant.

Shocked in MB

I guess all you did here was introduce a whole other subject of what needs to be eliminated/reformed-tort law in lawsuit driven California.


More tort-reform laws in California would not really matter in this (hypothetical) case. It would be a pretty straightforward personal injury lawsuit.

Even states that have seen a lot of tort-reform laws passed personal injury lawsuits have not been affected very much or at all.


So WHO is this Hay bale hater? And why should he/she even have a say so? Especially in the Fall season where you might see a straw filled Scarecrow or two! I think this Snob needs to go find something else to obsess on. Overly Obsessive ControI Freak. Doesn’t have much of a life, so they go around trying to tell everyone else what to do. Sounds like the Narcissist that lives next door. Such is a side effect of some sort of mental disorder. Sad people in my eyes. Needs Prayers, deserves Karma. So is that what happened to Martins Hay Bales too?


Dell, you called it many years ago in another article aptly titled “Pussies Rule”. America including Cayucos is currently reaping what lawsuits and pussification have sown.


Hooray! Another small town simpleton, brought to bear by the self-centered entitlement of every democrat that has moved to this county in the last 50 years! You know who they are; former LA residents, former SF residents, former Sac residents, all moving here for the “SMALL TOWN” atmosphere……………….just as long as it is paved over, and all the corners have padding for bicycle riders.

I think all county towns should have a regulation, that if you move here, you cannot ask for anything to change, or as they like to say “improve”, for at least 25 years.

Don’t like the streets? They were like this when you got here, but that didn’t stop you.

Don’t like the shopping? It was like this when you got here, but that didn’t stop you.

Don’t like the politics? It is how these towns have been run long long before you got here, but that didn’t stop you.

Don’t like the noise? You moved to a college town, a cattle town, an old railroad stop, next to an active airport, and a town that loves it’s loud, smoking hot rods every August, but that didn’t stop you.

Now, you moved to one of the most quaint stops in all of California, with miles of easily accessible beach, one fun weekend of parade, and a summer of international tourism. It also boasts some of the best eateries in the county, at least one of which is on Ocean Ave., the former US HWY 1. This particular diner has had to struggle, as all have during this Covid debacle, to make ends meet, keep people employed, and maintain their quality of service.

Right up until some big city relocated jackass decides that the colorful barriers…on a street wider than most freeways…weren’t up to THEIR standards for safety… a 25mph zone, about 10′ from any vehicle (in contrast to SLO, where car door handles can brush up against the barriers). The most danger these outside diners could face, is a errant baby stroller, or a water bottle accidentally dropped by one of thousands of bicycles that use the town for a quick stop on the way to Cambria and back.

How about, you just go back to your million dollar house on the beachfront, quit your bitching, and leave us small town atmospheres to live the way we always have, and love our towns the way you don’t.


Exactly! In a nut shell they can all piss off. It was a joy growing up in San Luis and now I hate it there. I’m on the phone a lot for work and 805 area codes are the minority of the numbers, incoming and outgoing. For whatever reason, I’m still always shocked at how rude the transplants are. They need to gtfo. Then again, they’ve already spoiled what was so magical here.

kevin rise

Gosh darn socialist Marxist haybales, or “tacky divider disrupting my mansions landscape” haybale dividers, disrupting my freedom to breathe on others. I appreciate your articles, I do not appreciate many transplants here in the last 30 years and the endless bureaucracy and politics Slo is inundated with. Osos, margarita and Atascadero are still ok, so is templeton when it isnt flooded with luxury cars and teslas guzzling local garbage wine in Castles and Giant buildings owned by the 1%. Cayucos is done and gone, so is cambria and morro bay. I wish people of wealth would lift their noses like they used to and leave. Boy, at Paso Council meetings, the local 1% are out of control and extremely drunk and rude, and the Trumpers disrupting local business with loud mufflers saying the help loa business, but never do, just causing drama.


Um, the ones you claim have ruined Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Cambria are not Trumpers, by any stretch of the imagination. The “loud mufflers” are much less disruptive than an activist yelling in your face through a megaphone while you attempt to enjoy a nice outdoor meal to support a local business!

Shocked in MB

That is so typical of today’s society. There are people out there who I swear solely exist to be the “enforcers” of all things that do not fit into their narrow little silo of conformity.

I have spent thousands of hours eating and drinking at sidewalk restaurants all over the world. They add such a feeling on friendliness everywhere including both the walkers and the sitters.As a result of allowing sidewalk seating, we will now see a push to put barricades like these on all streets to protect the people who walk on the sidewalk. They will probably require they be at least 6 ft high so as to protect everyone from flying debris. I thought we tore down the wall! Watch!


We could solve this in a minute. Tell Gavin Newsom to gtfo of our lives.