At a site known for extreme pricing, more stopped for sodas or snapshots than fuel.
Marvis Joy thought it was bad enough that the gas he was pumping into his Jeep Wrangler cost $7.85 for a gallon of regular. But he was taken aback when he heard how much that same gallon cost at that same downtown Los Angeles Chevron station just two days earlier.
A dizzying $8.05.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Joy said Thursday morning, noting that you’d never see such an outrage in his hometown of St. Louis.
“People get upset with prices in St. Louis when they get over $4,” he said. And he left the gas station with a message: “These prices need to go down, that’s all I’m saying.”
The gas station at Alameda Street and East Cesar Chavez Avenue is infamous for its sky-high prices. But it’s also a sign of the times, of gas prices that have been steadily rising yet again.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in California 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 L.A. County, $4.07.
Rural California is being hit even harder than Los Angeles. As of Thursday, Mono County’s average was $7.054, almost a full dollar more than the state average.
Nationwide, a gallon of regular cost on average $4.715 Thursday, up from $3.041 a year earlier.
There are many reasons why California has higher average gas prices, from more stringent clean energy regulations to inflation and other factors. Russia’s war against Ukraine has caused the international market to terminate relationships with Russian oil companies, shrinking the global supply.
Douglas Shupe, Southern California representative for AAA, said the state of gas prices throughout the rest of the summer is unpredictable and entirely dependent on the war.
He said he understands 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.
Though the prices at the station dropped back down to $7.85 per gallon by Wednesday morning, the climb above $8 was alarming to many L.A. residents. Chevron workers there declined to comment.
Most people who drove into the gas station midday Wednesday merely stopped for a soda, some cigarettes or a bag of chips, then made their way back onto the road. Only a handful of customers seemed unfazed enough by the rising prices to stop and fill up at the pump.
One of them, Los Angeles resident and L.A. Metro employee Suresh Narola, said he filled up his Chevy there out of necessity, not desire.
“This is the most expensive place in the city. I only fill up my tank here when it’s an emergency,” he said. “I work right around here, so sometimes it’s convenient.”
With a quick search, AAA’s Shupe said, he found multiple gas stations in the L.A. area well below the county average. He urges other customers to do the same.
“Our message to our customers is to not go to these gas stations with incredibly high prices out of habit, and to try to shop around,” he said.
He said the $8.05 price is not terribly surprising for that specific gas station; people in the area say it is notorious for its prices, even prior to the pandemic.
Many customers at the station Wednesday were visiting Los Angeles. There was the government worker from the Bay Area who wasn’t worried about prices because his employer was picking up the tab; one woman from Lebanon said she endured far higher prices in her home country; one Canadian man on vacation pointed out that the price of cheap gas is a factor in the growing issue of climate change.