Modern renovation meets slum in Cayucos

December 15, 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.


It was not my choice to renovate my deck, but instead the property manager, a lady who drives past my deck from time to time and has actually been on this deck and finally, against my better wishes, took matters into her own hands and tasked the company’s handyman crew with ripping out the old deck and railing and replacing them with something that did not embarrass the proprietors, neighbors, tourists and the entirety of Cayucos in general with a supposed eyesore in such an antiseptically quaint beach town losing its character with the passing of each day.

It took almost four days for the transformation that is so stunning that I am still adjusting to it. Already the compliments are pouring in from close-by neighbors and daily walkers and joggers.

“Your new deck is beautiful!”

“What a nice surprise, Dell! We love your new deck! I bet you do, too!”

A lady walking a resplendent, professionally groomed poodle down along the seawall commented, “I see you have a new deck. You must be pleased!”

“How do you like your new deck?” asked my immediate neighbor, Jamie, who stood on the deck of their three-story home putting up Christmas lights, along with her daughter. “Isn’t it nice?”

“Oh yeh, yeh, uh-huh, it’s okay.”

These ladies (who have been mother hens to me for 13 years) and family have the high ground from their deck, and over the years observed the accumulation of debris on my deck, as well as the neglect, which has also continued nonstop those 13 plus years, without a finger lifted to improve any deterioration outside of having a carpenter friend nail down wooden planks over two bucket-sized holes that streamed water down into the garage during rains but mostly to keep me and my dog from stepping in these holes and hurting ourselves, especially at night when I’ve been drinking, or, God save me, visiting family and friends could be injured or maimed.

One railing was sagging badly for years and on the verge of keeling over the side. Leaning against it presented a danger. I was a trifle miffed when the patient, reasonable, always accommodating and understanding property manager sort of ordered me to get rid of the steel-legged chairs which the head handyman insisted tore up the deck covering and were perhaps responsible for the large holes as well as several new openings offering a future obstacle course.

Before the remodel

I put up a mild rebellion but caved. Along with at least five of these chairs, also gone is a smoker that hadn’t been used in at least ten years, boxes of water-logged oak logs and chips, several fraying cushions usually placed on foot rests (also gone), a broken TV tray, two gnawed-up dog toys, a box of rags, several blankets and comforters, a broken lounger culled from a church sale down the street (free!), a broken rowing machine, and several other objects unworthy of mention.

Today, as I look out on this deck, it appears glaringly barren, tidy, linear, sterile, so much so that I have so far refrained from draping comforters, blankets, towels, T-shirts and shorts from the new railing, which achieve a sun and sea salt aroma to accompany my person.

I’m letting everybody wait a while and wonder just when I will start the long downhill slog of this new deck, which might take a while, because I actually like the new deck, because my dog does, though he too is somewhat lost when he goes to certain areas where the old smelly, soiled, torn-up comforters once bloomed for his comfort, whether in the shade or sun. (I purchased new ones from the local thrift store and he’s carefully sniffing them.)

Anyway, I have to say that the young handyman crew was polite, efficient, hard-working, pleasant, and embarrassed me by continually addressing me as “sir” when they all took one look at me and had to know I was a borderline bum, especially when they were so considerate when asking if I wanted to throw out certain objects that were obviously worthless and of no use for any function except as show pieces for demented hoarders.

“Yeh, throw em away,” I said, nodding sadly, a man long used to being surrounded by clutter and ruins and somehow adding sentimentality to items of squalor.

They of course (three of them) nodded politely, realizing they were dealing with somebody obviously suspect but having respect for their elders, which I don’t take for granted.

I’m a long way from being used to this new deck and its spotlessness, its spaciousness, its sand-colored surface to match the beach sand, and the sturdy new railing awaiting sun-blasted, thoroughly weathered togs about to hang from it. But I guess I’ll survive.

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Thankfully it got done before the rains hit. Now take the gloves off and get to work on a scathing article . Happy holidays

I like your old deck, slovenly, broken down and rotting around you has such an appeal. Walking aimlessly while your house falls down around you being critical of those you dont know around you is way better than fixing anything or putting anything in the trash. Way to go Dell!

Nice. I’ll stop by. Thanks for the invite!

Focus on the safety factor.. You’ll get through this new stylish moment

Make sure you Treat the deck with “New Zealand deck treatment”. This is all I could think of while reading this article. Lol

Has this guy just given up on life? Is there anything positive in his life? Just because a few people move to “his Cayucos” and build a house. Stop living in the past. The future is what you make it. Life is what you make it. Quite blaming people who worked hard for their money and want to enjoy it in Cayucos. You can’t stop them. So deal with it or go away already. Life will progress without you.

Being rich doesn’t mean you work hard at all, statistics for the super wealthy would prove this wrong. The hardest workers on earth make the least. Argue that, and Dell feels this. The rarity for rags to riches is like winning the lotto if you’re poor anywhere. It’s not debatable, it’s not political, it’s economics and empire and another failing system of civilization.

When Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk move in let me know.

Just what is your definition of “rich” or “super rich” ? Go on, give me a number. Or, is it anyone who owns a home? Better yet a home in a beach town? Did it ever occur to you that maybe the vast majority of Cayucos homeowners have mortgages, for homes, that they make mortgage payments on every month from wages that they EARN from working, 5 days a week, for months and years, just so they can own a nice home. Do you have evidence to refute this hypothesis? How many “super rich” people actually live in Cayucos and what does that term mean anyway?

More over, those “rich people” or “super rich” are paying a “sh…….ad” of taxes to support a benevolent government structure that you defend. (According to the tax foundation the top 1 percent pay almost 40 percent). In fact, the bottom 49 percent in the US pay zero in FEDERAL income tax.

Kevin, nice things cost money and envy is toxic and debilitating.

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

So are vainglory, greed, and wrath.

Yeah, and your point is? Are you implying that owning a home or enjoying the fruits of one’s labor is tantamount to greed? If so then who decides how much is enough? You? The government? I’m not being rhetorical, serious question here.

I know lots of people who own one or more properties who worked hard, took financial risks (gambled) and done quite well and I know a few who lost a lot. I know even fewer that inherited property (very few) so perhaps they didn’t work hard for it but their family certainly did and passed it on to children or grandchildren.

Look, if the notion of private property, success and reaping the fruit of one’s labor bothers you so much perhaps you should move and try a different system, I’m thinking Cubs or Venezuela perhaps.

Kevin, I have been asking people the same question for years now, when they tell me how hard they have worked to get where they are. I ask them: “How hard have you worked?” So far, no answer.

Maybe because you are talking to the wrong people, not your friends as they sip their soy latte. Try talking to the real people that build businesses and run companies not the ones speculating on their answers.

Real people? How real are they?

Hmm. Interesting that Mr. Bob equates “real people” with those who “build businesses and run companies.” I don’t get it. Is not Mr. Bob’s mailman a “real person”? Or, hmm, a police officer? Oh, well, best wishes anyway.