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LA County Gas Price Hits $5 Average For First Time Ever

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Los Angeles County has hit the $5-mark for the first time ever.

LA County Gas Price Hits $5 Average For First Time Ever
The price of gas at a Mobile station in Beverly Grove in Los Angeles. March 3, 2022. (CBSLA)

The price Thursday increased 8.6 cents to $5.01, according to AAA. It also marked the largest single-day increase since the 15.1-cent increase on July 14, 2015.

One Mobile station in Beverly Grove was charging $6.65 for a gallon of regular Thursday, with premium gas at $7.25 per gallon.

"I'm only going to fill up half-a-tank because it's so expensive here," one woman told CBSLA.

Dozens of cars could be seen lining up outside of a Costco in Pacoima to take advantage of  a well below-average price of $4.53 per gallon.

The $5.01 average is the 25th such record in the past 27 days in L.A. County. Worldwide, the price of oil has been steadily increasing to unprecedented levels in large part because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which briefly drove the price of crude oil to a staggering $115 per barrel Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal, the highest it's been since 2008. The U.S. and its Western allies announced earlier this week that they would release 60 million barrels from their oil reserves to try and counteract the price hike.

"It is what it is, and it is not as bad as for the people in Ukraine, who are getting bombed, carpet-bombed, civilians and such, I think that's worse than the high prices," driver Armand Zohari said.

Other factors such as inflation and California's switch to the summer blend could keep prices high for several months locally.

"So we've got about two months to go before prices peak traditionally, and so we'll just have to see where that lands us," AAA spokesperson Marie Montgomery said. "Generally speaking, 30 to 50 cents a gallon is a typical increase that we see in the springtime, between January and May."

She also noted that, "the entire country experienced anywhere from a 5 to 10 cent price increase in one day because of the oil market yesterday."

The California Energy Commission disclosed that gasoline stocks are down by about 6% as a result of the supply chain crisis that the nation still faces, another reason why prices are being pushed to record-highs.

Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed the possibility of freezing the state's gas tax hike this year in an effort to combat spiking inflation. California has a gas excise tax of 51.1 cents per gallon, the highest of any state in the nation. That tax is scheduled to increase on July 1 because of inflation.

Orange County's average price Thursday also hit a record high of $4.99 for a gallon of regular. It also recorded its largest daily increase since July 14, 2015, rising 8.6 cents.

As a result of the change, Angelenos have begun to change gears when it comes to their daily drivers.

The Nissan dealership in Glendale is one of many lots seeing a sudden increase in patrons looking to ditch the gas and go electric. On Thursday they had just one all-electrical vehicle on the lot, and it was already spoken for.

"It's a used one," said Bryan Mendez, who works at the Nissan dealership. "She came in for a new one, but we don't have it on our lot."

Kate Solow, already drove a Toyota Prius, but she wanted to go all electric this time around - both for the environment, and to skip out on these wallet gouging prices.

"The old law was the cost to charge a Leaf was half the price of gas, but now considering the prices, it's probably a third," she told CBS reporters.

The dealership will be getting a new shipment of Leafs in about three months, but those are already all spoken for as well, with patrons making their down payments nearly 90 days in advance.

"It's like you're scrambling to find them," Solow continued. "We could not find a new car that was available within 6 weeks."

With a sudden shortage of electric-powered vehicles in Southern California, others are forced to shop around for the lowest prices in their neighborhoods. The Costco in Burbank was another locale where a line of cars nearly 20 long could be seen spilling out onto the neighboring streets.

Zareh Ghazarian is one of the many who waited in line to take advantage of the "low prices."

"Oh man, the prices suck nowadays," he said, detailing to CBS reporters that he was only able to spare $20 to fill up a fraction his tank, as gas prices are already stretching his wallet thin.

"I don't know when it's going to go back to normal," he continued. "If it ever is going to go back to normal."

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