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Motorists ease off the gas

BURBANK — Massage therapist Sarah Offenbacher is cutting back on her driving so much that she didn’t drive to nearby Pasadena to pick up an overdue payment check.

“The gas prices really eat a lot into my business,” the Burbank resident said as she fueled up her red ’93 Honda Civic on Thursday at a Shell Station on Hollywood Boulevard. “I have to really consider what clients I am willing to visit.”

Just down the street, at a Valero station at Hollywood Way and Magnolia Boulevard, Cynthia Hernendez said she had to take her 2000 Astro van off the market.

“I wanted to sell the van to get a smaller car, but the big cars just aren’t selling because of the cost of fuel,” she said after she paid $75 to fill the tank.


Offenbacher and Hernendez are two of several Southland residents suffering from record-high gas prices.

Average Los Angeles fuel costs topped $3.95 today for regular gasoline and $4.28 for premium, according to an American Automobile Assn. report.

The average price statewide is $4 a gallon, and nationwide it is $3.83, according to the report.

Although a recent National Energy Information Administration report predicted less of a downturn in prices this spring than last year, drivers in the Los Angeles area are paying 52 cents more per gallon than they did last Memorial Day weekend.


California’s rising prices are reflected worldwide and are the result of the rising price of oil, said Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for AAA.

Crude oil reached $135.09 per barrel Wednesday during overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Stock Exchange.

Gas prices ranged from $4.02 to $4.07 in Burbank and from $4.05 to $4.15 in Glendale. Glendale’s prices are usually higher because it has less commercial traffic and fewer gas stations, according to market analysts.

“I feel the pinch every time I fill up,” said Glendale resident Bipin Deosthale, choosing to fill his Nissan Altima’s tank only halfway at $4.07 per gallon for regular at a Glenoaks Chevron. “Now I think twice before going any sort of distance.”

While AAA and the California Energy Commission declined to offer future predictions on the price of gas, they recommend that consumers simply drive less.

“If California drivers consolidate their trips, we can reduce in-state demand,” commission spokeswoman Susanne Garfield said. “This will increase available supplies, stabilize prices and put more money back in the consumers’ pockets.”