Life outside of Cayucos

May 29, 2022

Dell Franklin

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.

The son of a fellow seawall gang geezer was at the sight the other morning talking about life in other parts of California that we never think about or discuss, though I was interested in Manhattan Beach, where he now lives, because I lived a block from the beach in Manhattan Beach from 1970 until 1986, before I moved up to the central coast.

The first shock wave the young man (around 50) bludgeoned us with was that on a recent visit to wine country in Sonoma County, and primarily Napa, wineries were now charging visitors hungry to buy bottles of expensive wine $90 for sample sips!


“Who pays for that?” I asked.

“The place was packed and they were all paying,” said the son.

“Jesus Christ, I wonder what a bottle of wine costs.”

He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”

I wondered who had that kind of money in this country. You would think there might be a smattering of really rich people willing to pay $90 for a couple sips of wine and then buy a case of it, which might mean a grand, easily, but a packed house of high rollers clamoring all over each other to throw down that much money for a sip?

It makes one also wonder about the haves and have nots in America. Now, I have no idea what it costs for a sip of wine in the 100 plus wineries studding the Paso Robles area, but I know they’re packed too, and that it’s a destination, and I don’t think they’re charging $90 for a sip. At least I hope not.

The son continued: “The cheapest you can get a room up there is about $390 to $400. There are a lot of places up there that charge around $900, and they’re full up, you’re lucky to find a spot to lay your head.”

All this? For wine? A bunch of sugar? What’s happening to California and the country? How desperate for whatever it is can a person or people be to shell out that much cash for wine?

“What about dining?” I asked.

“You can’t get away without spending at least $200 for a dinner for two,” explained the son, who is probably well-off since he owns a home in Manhattan Beach. His father, my friend, is a retired lawyer who still consults.

“What about my old stomping grounds, Manhattan Beach?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t like it at all now,” he said. “When you were there, it was affordable, and golden.”

“The best,” I said. “I lived in a spacious studio apartment a block from the beach, utilities paid, for $120 a month for 10 years. We partied nonstop. I sometimes made my rent as a bartender on one shift. I saved enough money to take a year off and go to Europe. I could have laid some money down for a shack, but I was having too much fun living the good life.”

“You wouldn’t recognize it these days.”

“My old place would be around four grand a month?”


“Two hundred for a meal in a local restaurant, for, say, two?”

He nodded.“You wouldn’t like the people. All millionaires and billionaires. They’re not much fun.”

I told him about the time I was down in Manhattan Beach fifteen years or so ago to play basketball with an old group of pals at Live Oak Park, where I was reported for hitting a tennis ball to my Lab in the park. The cops came and ran a make on me. Two cop cars. To get out of a fine, I explained I’d lived in Manhattan Beach for years but had been gone so long I was unaware of the new laws and promised not to hit a tennis ball to my dog in the park again.

They explained where I should take my dog—a path. Everything was regimented and my old heap didn’t look good beside the gleaming Porsches, BMWs, Lexuses and luxury sedans everywhere.

They let me go. I guess I didn’t look like I could afford $4,000 for a studio a block from the beach or $200 for a dinner, which made me appear suspicious.

The son, who is looking to move out of  Manhattan Beach, mentioned his daughter lives and works in a part of Manhattan in New York City so expensive and exciting he referred to it as Disneyland! “Whatever you want, it’s there—restaurants, bistros, bars, it’s like you want to go to Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland….it’s all there, take your pick. You order a cocktail, it’s twenty bucks a pop, minimum.”

And I thought Cayucos was getting bad. Hell, I can get a good quality vodka on the rocks for around $8 at the Schooner’s Wharf, and, with a $90 tab I can buy numerous rounds and pass the time with people who have no interest in wine tasting in Napa and can talk baseball and literature and utter nonsense for several hours while we tie one on and possibly embarrass ourselves.

And I can take my dog to any park or the beach in Cayucos and let him do what he wants.

Eat your hearts out, millionaire and billionaire wine sippers in your regimented havens.

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Well, this is a capitalist economy, Dell. Prices will rise as long as someone is willing to pay them and a profit is made. Wine has obviously been a cash cow on the Central Coast and in the Napa Valley for quite some time. All of those vineyards between Cayucos and Paso didn’t grow up because people didn’t make money.

In fact, California is awash in money. It is the fifth largest economy in the WORLD and only slightly behind Germany. It may overtake that nation if the war in the Ukraine lasts much longer.

It’s no surprise that not one legitimate Republican has challenged Gavin Newsom in the gubernatorial primary. They know that Newsom is unbeatable, as evidenced by the recent recall election. California has its problems, but a lack of money and economic growth is not one of them.

Sad but true. Lots of people in Cayucos who have been there a long time have taken full advantage of the capitalist economy. I bet none of them are complaining. I wouldn’t be complaining if I hadn’t partied, only paid a couple hundred a month in rent, and saved to buy that fixer upper in the 1980’s. I might have bought two!