Cayucos’ lone bank is closing

October 10, 2021

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. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.

By DELL FRANKLIN

Our lone little bank in Cayucos is closing. That’s what the brief letter from Mechanics Bank stated. I guess they don’t see any profit in keeping a bank in our tiny beach burg that is slowly losing locals but gaining tourists in our sterile mini-mansions — either left vacant for months or filled to the brim as Airbnbs.

I suppose Mechanics is pushing us toward banking on the internet and making sure their one-percenter stockholders make more money while they cut down the good old community-friendly services one used to receive from a bank — like not charging for checks and statements, etc.

Oh, these banks, they love to ballyhoo themselves as so loyally and gratefully serving their beloved customers and community (listen to the sappy pitches on radio), but in truth they lead the parade of one-percenters in this country as colossal bloodsuckers.

The day might come when they give us nothing back and charge us to keep our damn money in their vaults.

Missing, to me, will be the friendly faces of the women who work there. We don’t see them very often. They probably don’t get paid much. Sometimes they have to explain things to those of us who don’t work online or use ATM’s.

Sometimes they have to listen when we complain about how our pathetic little CDs are ground down to a percent of a percent while their stockholders are becoming richer and richer on our money.

It’s not their fault. I suppose these gals are just thankful to have a job. Not once in 32 plus years living in Cayucos have I ever not been treated fairly and with respect and dignity while going to the bank here.

Why else do I like going to the bank instead of doing my business online, or using an ATM to extract a few dollars from my account?

Because sometimes, like going to the market or post office, you occasionally run into somebody you haven’t seen in months or sometimes a year or even years, and you catch up. Sometimes the catching up spills out onto the sidewalk.

This is a good feeling, a feeling that maybe lifts your day.

Often, just being downtown and coming out of the bank allows you to run into people, and being there imparts a sense of belonging, which is vital in these days of community liquidating, of increasing isolation.

And how do owners of our small downtown businesses feel about no longer being able to walk a few doors down and make deposits and run into other business owners and exchange questions about how their businesses are doing?

Well, I got it firsthand that more than a few of them are pissed off.

I ran into Bill Shea, owner of the Sea Shanty restaurant as he was entering the bank, and asked him, and he was furious. “If Raelene (the manager) isn’t at the bank in Morro Bay,” he seethed, “I’m changing banks!”

I ran into a man who’s worked his own construction business here for thirty years and raised two boys and he said, “I go down to the bank just about every day to make deposits, and do business. It’s walking distance, near where I get my morning coffee. Think I’m happy losing that?”

Now, we will have to do our business in Morro Bay, seven miles away, a bigger small town that will probably be busier.

Know who else is irate? The elderly. Those older than me, at 78, are often restricted physically to Cayucos. They are used to their home bank. Some arrive on electric carts. Marc, up in Bella Vista,  has been coming down every day on his electric-powered wheelchair for 30 years. One lady told me that a few years back, when her mother was alive, she was about to get scammed when the bank replaced by Mechanics called to notify her.

I guess, according to Mechanics bank, personalization is dead.

I wonder, too, if the women who have worked at this bank for so long will stay on, or will be let go because of the down-sizing of banks in small towns across America.

As of now, they have no idea and hope for the best. But the sad fact is Mechanics is closing other banks in one big sweep and as usual the little people go first while the managers transfer.

Fact is, since I’ve been here, the past two banks have been bought out, and each time they give back less and less (their extensive new policy in tiny print is purposely so vague one can hardly decipher it but know we are getting shafted), and this Mechanics bank is the worst and should be ashamed of themselves, up in their gilded offices somewhere in America, squeezing out a little more and more, as if there’s never enough, never enough, while offering lame excuses hinting at struggling to make a profit.

Yeh, sure.

And when I drive around Morro Bay and pass the other banks in town, and there’s a few, I realize they’re no different, and the people who own them probably feel we peons should be thankful we even have a safe place to keep our shrinking, paltry funds.

I wish I didn’t need them, but I do; and like everybody else, I have to deal with being at their mercy.

It’s the way things are these days, and it probably won’t be too long until our post office goes and Cayucos will be just another landing place with an ATM on a corner and a solitary mailbox.

What will end up in the current bank when it empties? Oh, probably another real estate office to batter around in the increasingly impossible grab bag of one-percenter house hounding.

PS. For what it’s worth, we can all (who are technically able on a computer) complain to the FDIC.


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blackjack

Another step in the sad predictable slide of a vacation home town blended with a genuine “community” of full time residents morphing like Cancer into a full blown tourist zone, with every structure earning top dollar by the square foot or by the night (or by 30 nights to get around the vacation rental laws ) . Losing Boyle Lumber and later on the hardware store sucked as well .


Fred from the Valley

I have to drive 15 miles to a bank. I rarely go. If I have a check to deposit I use the app on my phone. I see my friends in town and am happy to see them, I don’t have to go to the bank for that. Tell those 1 percenters to stay off my lawn!


Downtown Bob

I am very confused by the inconsistencies in your article Dell. The one percenter s don’t like small banks, in fact if they get their way biden is going to saddle them with the burden of reporting any transaction over a measly $600 to the IRS so you cannot sell stuff on Etsy or eBay without giving the state their fee. Small banks won’t be able to comply, big ones sure they can. Secondly, negative interest rates HAVE been floated by the IMF and other European countries and cash is a target of abolishment. With electronic funds, and no cash, just think all transactions can be tracked, controlled, and curated. No drug deals, no under the table working. Don’t get your vaccine, your credits expire. Stimulous plans could be very targeted, The Fed and the 1% are not our friends, but it isn’t the people in Cayucos vacationing that are the issue, try Martha’s Vineyard.


Messkit

San Simeon has no bank. Santa Margarita has no bank. Avila Beach has no bank. Shandon has no bank, Creston has no bank. Harmony has no bank. California Valley has no bank. Pozo has no bank. Cholame has no bank.


It’s as if, people can get along without a bank in town…


Mark

Good riddance to brick and mortar banks, a remnant of the old days.


Adam Trask

I’m 74 and I agree with Mark. I haven’t been inside a bank in years. Everything is easily done from a computer or phone. And, if I need actual cash, which is rare, I go to the ATM.


But, I get your point Dell. It’s just another way for the ultra-wealthy to horde even more of the money.


Mechanics Bank, formerly Rabobank, formerly Mid-State Bank is now owned by a private equity firm out of Dallas and they could give a rip about their customers in California, although it’s interesting that a Texas group would invest a cent in Cali. I’ve been hearing for years how great things are in Texas and how all of Cali’s money is moving there. Maybe not so much.


Boldguy

Or they collect the money here in California, but do the loans in Texas!!!

One of the previous bank managers told me that the Cayucos location was more of a depository than a branch that gave out loans, which is where they make money, to many rich Del’s :)