Marvis Joy thought it was bad enough that the gas he pumped into his Jeep Wrangler cost $7.85 for a gallon of regular gas. But he was surprised when he heard how much that same gallon cost at that same downtown Los Angeles Chevron station two days earlier.
A jaw-dropping price of $8.05.
“You’re kidding me,” Joy said Thursday morning, noting you’d never see such outrage in her hometown of St. Louis.
“People get upset with prices in St. Louis when they go over $4,” he said. And he left the gas station with a message: “These prices need to come down, that’s all I’m saying.”
The gas station at Alameda Street and East Cesar Chavez Avenue is infamous for its exorbitant prices. But it is also a sign of the times, of gasoline prices which have continued to rise once again.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California on Thursday was $6,213, according to the American Automobile Assn. The price in Los Angeles County was $6,221. Compare that to June 2021, when the average price in California was $4.204 and in LA County was $4.07 – a staggering difference.
Rural California is even harder hit than Los Angeles. On Thursday, Mono County’s average was $7,054, nearly a dollar higher than the state average.
Nationally, a gallon of regular fuel costs an average of $4,715 on Thursday, up from $3,041 a year earlier.
There are many reasons why California has higher average gas prices, tighter clean energy regulations, inflation and other factors. Russia’s war against Ukraine caused the international market to end its relationship with Russian oil companies, reducing global supply.
Douglas Shupe, Southern California representative for AAA, said the state of gas prices through the rest of the summer is unpredictable and entirely dependent on Russia’s war with Ukraine.
He said he understood people’s surprise when they saw the Chevron station earlier this week. He got out of his car to take a picture of the $8.05 sign.
Although prices at the station fell back to $7.85 a gallon Wednesday morning, the rise to $8.05 alarmed many Los Angeles residents. Chevron workers declined to comment.
The majority of those who made it to the gas station midday on Wednesday simply stopped for a soda, cigarettes or a bag of crisps and then drove on. Only a handful of customers seemed indifferent enough to the rising prices to stop and fill up at the pumps.
One of them, Suresh Narola, a Los Angeles resident and LA Metro employee, said he filled up his Chevy out of necessity, not desire.
“It’s the most expensive place in town. I only refuel here in an emergency,” he said. “I just work here, so sometimes it’s convenient.”
Shupe said with a quick search, he found several gas stations in the Los Angeles area well below the county average. He urges other customers to do the same.
“Our message to our customers is not to routinely go to these insanely high priced gas stations and try to hunt for the cheapest gasoline,” he said.
He said the price of $8.05 is not very surprising for this specific gas station; locals say it is known for its prices, even before the pandemic.
Many station customers on Wednesday were visiting Los Angeles. There was the Bay Area government employee who didn’t care about prices because his employer footed the bill; a Lebanese woman said she suffered much higher prices in her country of origin; a Canadian on vacation pointed to cheap gas prices as a factor in the growing problem of climate change.
Help will probably not arrive before the end of the summer. In March, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed an $11 billion relief package, which would include $400 per vehicle for registered vehicle owners, as well as transit grants that would provide free rides to residents for three months. .
Still, California lawmakers are still debating the terms of this relief package, and Newsom’s proposal has yet to be approved. And as multiple deadlines come and go, it seems like a long process is still going on.
Antonio Taylor, who filled up his Dodge at the station on Thursday morning, said he was not waiting for the government. He plans to buy a Tesla.
“Honestly, those prices aren’t dropping any time soon, so hopefully I won’t have to do this much longer,” he said.
What won’t change, according to Shupe, is gas demand throughout the summer. He doesn’t think rising gas prices will change California residents’ desire to travel or travel already pushed back by the pandemic.
“Just this Memorial Day weekend, we saw a 5% increase in car travel,” Shupe said.
The prices don’t let up. Nor, it seems, consumers in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Times